UPA, Health and Environment
Contributions received in the second week of session 2 (september 11-17)
From: Tanya Bowyer-Bower
Subject: Policies in Harare regarding UPA & Environment
Contribution to the questions set for this Part 2 of our UPA Health and Environment discussion based on the Harare case study:
What UA policies are implemented in your area and the extent to which they consider environmental impacts?The answer to these questions for the case study of UA in Harare is explained in a short paper of mine published in the Geographical Journal of Zimbabwe in 1997 (?The potential for UA to contribute to urban development in Africa dilemmas of current practice and policy?), a copy of which is about to be placed in the planning section of the infomart for this e-conference.
How do UA policies attempt to balance the conflict between positive and negative effects?
The traditional answer to this in Harare has been to ban UA (as explained in the above mentioned paper). Under pressure from urban residents, the municipal authorities have now backed down from implementing the plan. However has not yet got to the stage / cannot yet reach consensus on completing guidelines for an effective management of UA such that it is undertaken for fulfilling agreed goals (the goals have not yet been agreed either). Hence the output of a global discussion of this nature could be very useful in guiding cities like Harare as to what viable options could be.
Which policy measures were implemented in your city to prevent and/or diminish the environmental risks of UA? So far none because UA has always been technically illegal and so agricultural extension services have had no mandate to assist urban farmers. Obviously this should change with UA no longer being prevented, and even more so should it become technically legal.
I hope these contributions to the questions are useful. Feedback welcome.
From: Pay Drechsel
Subject: Municipal by-laws
Dear Tanya, Your statements are in fact very generic and match also our experience and point of view. Thanks.
It would be nice to get more feedback from participants familiar with municipal authorities and their bye-laws etc. There are cities like Accra, where the Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has somehow recognized the value of food production in the city. AMA supports through the decentralization policy of the Government of Ghana the institutionalization of urban and peri-urban agriculture through a related Department and Sub-Committee in the Assembly. There is a Director for Urban Agriculture, and every year at the National Farmers Day this official recognition is expressed in awards for the best urban and peri-urban farmers per city (besides best farmers at district/regional/national level). But there are also a range of bye-laws, which however mostly restrict UA, e.g. to protect the urban consumers (one says that no crops shall be watered or irrigated by the effluent of a drain from any premises or any surface water etc.). However, these bye-laws are seldom enforced, accompanied by no or weak structural and s rategic planning with respect to UA. Positively speaking, the UA policy situation appears complex but it is developing. Currently it is a mixture of yes and no, and the authorities are in need of much advice and decision support.
From: Paul Calvert (Ecocolutions)
Subject: ecological sanitation
Dear discussion group
I wonder why you do not appear to be considering the tremendous potential of ecological santation in these debates. (Much of the debate centres around mosquito menace, this approach can have a significant effect of reducing mosquito breeding sites - see below)
Half of the problem we are dealing with stems from the wrong approach to sanitation. Current approaches to sanitation create sewage. Engineers and public health authorities, agriculturalists etc are then faced with what to do with this less than ideal product that did not need to be made in the first place. Why take good nutrients and contaminate water with them and add indutrial effluent to spoil them....? In many cases the nutrients in urine are transported to where they need to be by the people who need to use them!
With urine diversion at source and composting of faeces on site at a family scale there are huge benefitss to urban agriculture. Much of the urine can be piped subsurface to growing beds on site or to local growing areas and is an excellent fertiliser. The composted faecal matter is safe and a good soil improver. Urine and faeces are kept out of industrial waste water so the contamination of urine and compost with chemicals and heavy metals is avoided and the contamination of industrial effluent with pathogens is avoided. The products of ecological sanitation are infinitely better than septic tank and pit latrine sludge, aesthetically, nutritionally, and from a health standpoint. The families themselves do the processing (no sewage and therefore no sewerage installation and maintenance costs, or leaks to pollute and contaminate water bodies, groundwater or water pipes).
Emptying a compost toilet for the compost is not an unpleasant or dangerous task - the same cannot be said of septic tanks and pit latrines. Large volumes of water that would have been used for flushing are saved for much more useful (and sensible) purposes. Families can derive nutritional and or economic benefit from these products (urine - ie liquid fertiliser, compost, the products they grow with them, and the savings they make from not purchasing commercial fetiliser) The urine from one person can be adequate to fertilise 50 to 200 sq m of cultivated land.
There are other benefits too such as the energy savings in reduced commercial fertiliser production and transport of that product and its constituents to/from the centres of production and use. Another benefit is that unlike septic tanks and pit latrines which very often are a significant source of mosquito breeding compost and dessicating toilets do not provide sites for this.
There are clearly different scales that this reuse of ecological sanitation products can be developed on. In Sweden urine is now being used on trials by farmers to fertilise their fields after being collected from eco-communities and stored. There are numerous examples of ecological sanitation now working successfully in the world, China, Vietnam, Mexico, India - where I am working, Sweden, Bolivia, parts of Africa, etc.
Reuse close to home by families themselves can surely be a significant benefit to famuily and community health and well being, saving expenditure on commercial fertilisers, preventing pollution of water bodies and ground water with pathogens and placing nutrients in the wrong place, saving water, improving soils, providing income and nutrition. All this being done right in the families and homes that the most need these benefits...