Lessons learned from operating a pre-commercialisation field-testing platform for innovative non-sewered sanitation in Durban, South Africa
Keywords:new product development, on-site sanitation, field trials, project management, reinvented toilet, next generation sanitation
The Engineering Field Testing Platform (EFTP) was designed to provide an opportunity for technology developers (TDs) to test non-sewered sanitation prototypes in the eThekwini Municipal Area (Durban), South Africa. Between 2017 and 2020, 15 sanitation systems were tested in informal settlements, peri-urban households, and other ‘real world’ settings. This paper illustrates the lessons learned from establishing and managing this testing platform. Costs and timelines for testing are dependent on several factors, including the aims of testing, the development stage of the prototype, whether testing takes place in a community or household setting and if a testing site is shared between prototypes. Timelines were routinely underestimated, particularly for community engagement and commissioning of prototypes to reach steady-state operation. Personnel accounted for more than half of the EFTP’s costs. The presence of the municipality as a platform partner was vital to the success of testing, both for gaining political support and for enabling access to testing sites. It is noted that working in communities, with test sites in public spaces, requires technical and social sensitivity to context. It was important to ensure testing supported future municipal decision-making on service provision, as well as longer-term development within communities. The high number of stakeholders, locally and internationally, raised management challenges common to any large project. However, the EFTP added value to TDs, the eThekwini Municipality, and communities requiring improved sanitation services; this was amplified through the platform approach.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 RC Sindall, R Cottingham, P Arumugam, SJ Mercer, C Sutherland, N Alcock, CA Buckley, G Gounden
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
The content of this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence. Users are permitted to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal under the terms of this Licence, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, provided the source is attributed. Copyright is retained by the authors.