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Madimba ecosan pilot project to intergrate peri-urban ecosystem; case of lusaka -zambia

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Obed C. Kawanga* & Anthony Mwewa

  1. *Central Statistical Office, Lusaka Province, P.O.BOX 31908, Lusaka, Zambia

  2.  NECOS-Zambia P.O.BOX FW 153, Lusaka, Zambia



  1. About the Author


The principal author Obed Kawanga works for the Government research institution (Central Statistics office) as Deputy Regional Statistician and has served for 16 years. He is a founder president of the Network for the Environmental Concerns and Solutions NECOS-Zambia founded in March 2004. Presented papers at international conferences such as Ecocity, Shenzhen,  China 2002, Ecosan, Lubeck Germany April 2003, International Water information Summit, Delft Netherlands 2003 and enviroinfo, CERN Switzerland 2004.


He has participated in important national tasks like the development of the National Environmental policy and the National wetlands Policy. He worked as JICA-PHC local consultant to analyse cholera surveillance and prevalence for 2003/2004 out break.


He is working as National representative for the International Organisation for Bio-techninology, Bio-engineering (IOBB), based in Stockholm Sweden.





Paper discusses baseline results from one of Lusaka’s peri urban communities known as Madimba and highlights practical experiences. The project implemented through Ecosan principles with the intentions to develop an Eco-model (PUHEIM) for the integration of peri urban communities. It also discusses strategies that empowered vulnerable poor communities with cost sharing skills to run communal water sources and waste management.


It brings out how implicit experience and tacit knowledge translated into shared experiences and explicit knowledge resulting into effective community structures for implementing Ecological concepts. Points out negative and positive experiences on how Ecosan programs are implemented through community participation, considering gender perspectives, cultural background as well as the socio-economic situations of the vulnerable groups the poor.


 Key words:  Eco-model, PUHEIM, Madimba, peri-urban, vulnerable




  1. Introduction


“Global urbanization is one of the defining factors of this era. However and in general, the environmental implication of this trend in the developing world context, in terms of the urban impact on the ecosystem in most cases remains an area of substantial uncertainty Burgess et al, (1997: 1-9) Kjellen and Mc Granahan, 1997: 18-23).”


The challenge of unplanned settlements in African sub Saharan region has resulted into a number of adverse effects that affects urban human ecology, natural ecosystems, human health and social life for both young and old. “The rate of urbanization has also resulted into numerous un-planned informal settlements commonly known as peri-urban communities. The peri-urban population is estimated to range from about 40% in small towns to 80% in cities. Lusaka City has 33 Peri-Urban Areas, although local authorities regard these settlements as “illegal” or “squatter” compounds they continue to grow without planning controls.” (GRZ-MLGH, 2001: 1-5) Urbanization in developing countries like Zambia, poses a major challenge to the urban environmental planning and management at community level that may demand re-examining of urban environmental management issues.


Integrating the peri urban communities through the application of ecological principles can solve some of the challenges in the urban environment. One of the dimensions of human ecology is urban ecological planning or ecoplis, which however is only practiced in a few cities around the world for example in parts of the Netherlands, despite adoption of ecological urban planning principle as part of Agenda 21 (Tjalingii 1997). Ecopolis focuses attention on the relationship between urbanisation, natural environment and ecological urban planning. In ecological planning human society occupies a key position in management of its relationship with the natural environment.


Based on ecological concepts, a non-profit and non-Governmental organisation Network for the environmental Concerns and Solutions (NECOS-Zambia) is dedicated to reshaping peri urban communities for long-term health of human and natural systems by developing an Eco-model, to be called “Peri Urban Human Ecosystem Integration Model” (PUHEIM Concept). PUHEIM is an indigenous ecological model developed by Obed Kawanga a Zambian environmental health expert, through community participation. The concept developed in one of Lusaka’s peri urban communities “Madimba” that we intend to call Eco-village and it is a pilot Project to be used for the integration of peri urban areas.


  1. Background


Lusaka was inaugurated as capital of Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia) on 31 May 1935. At independence in 1964 the city had a population of only 195,700, “currently the city is a fast growing town, with estimated Population of about 1.341,167 million.” (CSO Census, 2000: 23-25) Eighty percent (80%) of the population live in un-serviced areas (shantytowns/ compounds) or peri-urban communities usually located in flood-prone areas where formal developments are avoided. “The common excremental sanitary disposal systems in these areas are on-site traditional pit-latrines, which are characterised among other things by short life span, no standard design, odours, permeability, breeding ground for vermin and pathogenic (bacteria and parasites) making a pit-latrine a source of pollution (air and ground water) as well as source of infectious diseases and environmental hazard.”  (Lusaka City Council and GRZ, 1997: 10-25)


The “Pit-latrines that covers about 45% are widely used in high-density residential areas of the city. When they are filled they are emptied into side holes of the pit and back fill or back fill the pit and construct a new one.”  (Wamukwamba and Share, 2001: 212). One way to integrate these un-serviced peri-urban settlements in Lusaka is by introducing dry toilets (Ecosan) suited for these high water table areas. (O. Kawanga, Personal communication) “Lusaka area forms part of the great mild-tertiary peneplain of Central Africa that stands at 1,260m (4200ft) above sea level.”  (Lusaka City Council and ECZ 1998). The flat terrain, high water table and soil porous especially around the areas of limestone, has contributed to high ground water pollution because of the percolation of feacal coliform from traditional pit-latrines into groundwater sources, including shallow wells, making this receptacle environmentally un-friendly (O. Kawanga, Personal communications)


Madimba is one of the peri urban areas in Lusaka that started as an unplanned settlement with an estimated population of over 3,000. 47% of this population are male and 53% are female.  They occupy an area of about 1.2 Square Kilometres (km2), representing 0.33% of an estimated 360 Square Kilometres (km2), of Lusaka district. There is approximetry567 number of households occupying more than 500 housing units. Madimba is a local name that means gardens (Farms). The first settlers in the area were the American missionaries who belonged to the Church of Christ in 1960. The population by then were only four households only. Madimba is located to the northwestern side of the city centre about 10KM away, towards Barlastone park in Lusaka west. Since the area is not serviced and underground water table is high, many dig shallow wells in their yards adjacent to their homes and use the water for daily activities. The openings of these wells are generally at ground level, and occasionally up to 4-5 inches above ground (Kawanga, 2004: 4-5). The critical community concern is that every year there are cases of children drowning in open unprotected pits or shallow wells which has reached a death toll of 12, since 1995. Another problem is that toilets, generally traditional pit-latrines are often dug within several yards from the wells. A scenario of having pit-latrines closer to shallow wells has resulted into massive ground water contamination. The biological analyses of the water samples collect from three points in 2004 isolated E.coli, Salmonella and other bacterial responsible for Diarrhoeal cases. During the rainy season, the excrement in the latrines overflow with rainwater as well as percolation of feacal coliform into the shallow wells causing the situation to be even more worse.


The general objective: is to promote ecological awareness, help people understand their place in nature, cultural identity, responsibility for the environment and help them change for better nutrition and to contribute to maintain high quality peri-urban ecosystem, in urban settlements of Zambia to induce economic growth and environmental protection. The specific objectives:-


  • To identify and develop ecological priority indicators of public health importance which shall be monitored over time (e.g. control of mosquitoes, flies etc).

  • To bring in issues of gender, poverty and HIV/AIDS in environmental management.

  • To establish resource centres so as to avail sound knowledge transfer through education and training on environmental issues.

  • To integrate ecological sanitation into agriculture by promoting the use of waste as fertilizer e.g. human excreta

  • To promote natural resource conservation (boil-diversity)

  • To promote non-motorised transport i.e. safe pedestrian and use of bicycles

  • To promote ecoscape integrity (environmental landscaping i.e. tree planting, parks, plaza.

  • To collaborate and network with communities, Institutions and organisations at local, national, regional and global levels with similar objectives.




The study employed quantitative approach and literature review were primary and secondary data was captured.  The major stages were:-

  1. Interviews: to capture primary data from key informants in the pilot area by the use of structured questionnaire.

  2. Review of existing literature to capture secondary data from the publication about urban human ecology, ecosystem and urbanization done in other countries in Africa and elsewhere.

  3. Direct Observation of the ecology of the pilot area (Madimba) and took some        pictures.

Madimba area was selected as an area to develop an eco-model as well as Ecosan pilot project for the reasons being that, it is one of the un-planned settlements in Lusaka and it is un-serviced peri urban settlement. Secondly, Madimba has had no donor interventions carrying out Environmental or any developmental programmes making it easier for the recommendations of ECOLOGIGAL MODLE to be turned into projects by any donor locally or international. Thirdly, Madimba area is well located for Ecosan activities.


The purposive sampling was applied, whole households in Madimba pilot area were covered and the criteria for selection of respondents were as follows:-

·         To have been a resident of madimba for not less than 3 years or more

·         Knowledgeable of major community concerns

·         Must be 16 years of age or more

·         Could be single or family person


Data collected by the use of questionnaire at household level, was subjected to quantitative analysis by the use of computer packages (software), Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The variables analysed were, gender perspective, socio-economic, cultural backgrounds and norms as well as community participation. The demographic characteristics was analysed too. The ecology ecosystem was considered.




The findings of the baseline have revealed practical experiences of an eco-model development and Ecosan pilot project in Madimba community. Several community concerns that adversely affects the residents has been highlighted and discussed to come up with intervention strategies that empowers the peri urban vulnerable groups the poor with ecological principles among other things.


 The baseline recommended interventions appropriate to the local conditions that will facilitate the implementation strategies that would directly or indirectly provide healthy peri-urban human environment with diverse opportunities for income generating among the target groups. Several factors and indicators affecting the alternative livelihood were examined.  These includes the following:- Analysis of Social demographic such as Marital status, Household size, home ownership, Sex, and cultural perspectives.


Population by Gender


The baseline survey found that Madimba compound has an area of approximately 1 .2KM2 with 567 number of households occupying more than 500 housing units. The total population is approximetry3,036 of which 47% representing male where as 53% female. Although the area has more female than male more than 90% are in monogamies marriages, polygamous is not common in the area. See figure 1 showing population by gender.

Source: Field baseline survey 2004

Source: Field baseline survey 2004



Ecosan Back Yard Gardens


Urban agriculture in terms of gardens production in eco-village (madimba Ecosan pilot project) has been low and that most urban households (small scale) are faced with a number of problems that results in urban household food insecurity and high poverty levels. 77% of the peri urban households in the eco-village are not engaged in back yard Ecosan gardens as opposed to 15% found with vegetable gardens without practicing Ecosan concepts. Although the majority of the residents in madimba area are renting house accommodation, the house ownership status has no influence for the household to own or to have a back yard garden (vegetable).


Source: Field baseline survey 2004

Source: Field baseline survey 2004



Main Water Sources in Eco-Village


The main water sources are shallow wells that counted for 68%, Kajima (JICA communal taps counted for 20% and 12% counted for other sources. Most of the residents who draw water from JICA communal taps walk long distances of about 500 mitres to 1km or more to those who stay fur away from the communal taps. During rainy season the shallow wells are more contaminated with faecal coliform from latrine overflow due to rainwater run off and percolations from traditional pit latrines. The shallow wells are the danger to the children who drown at least one per year and the number has retained 12 deaths by March 2005. Although wholesome safe water found fur away the residents of Eco-village have developed a cost sharing skill to run communal (JICA) water sources found in the near by compounds. The cost-sharing concept demands a monthly contribution of K3000 that is less than $1. The maximum daily litre of water is 20 by 20 litres containers (Budiza).


Source: Field baseline survey 2004

Source: Field data January 2004



Ecoscape and Tree planting


Ecological planning in human society occupies a key position in management of its relationship with the natural environment that ultimately leads to economically empowerment, improved support and provision of services. Ecological landscape lacks in Madimba area resulting in rainy water collection, making most pathways impassable during rain season. The baseline results revealed that about 65% households have no trees in the yard and the concept of tree planting seem to be lacking in the majority of households residing in eco-village. See figure below.



         Source: Field baseline survey 2004                         Source: Field data January 2004  



Major Concerns

The major community concerns identified in the baseline includes the socio-economic, ecological factors, cultural backgrounds and norms. “Cultural, can be defined as a set of guidelines (both explicit and implicit) which individuals as member of a society inherit and which informs them how to perceive their environment and how to relate to other people.”  (Musoke, 1998: 197).


“People’s cultural background is an important influence on several aspects of their lives, including their attitudes towards wealth, well-being and livelihood diversification.” (Shinyanga, and UNDP, 1998: 208) Therefore, understanding social networks is one of the most effective way of exploitation and utilisation of Ecosan concepts at local level.


However, the scenario is so bad such that if it remains unchecked, the future of Ecosan in African societies will adversely be affected. Going by the information available the development of Ecosan into agriculture plays an important role in improving household food supply and increasing the earnings of the urban poor households to enhance food security and poverty alleviation.

HIV/AIDS was found to be a cross cutting issue that should not overlooked when implementing Ecosan programmes. Only 4.2% of the population have under gone VCT of which 2.6% are female were as male counted for 1.6%. Stigma is very common among urban dwellers. See figure.


         Source: Field baseline survey 2004                         Source Field baseline survey 2004                        




Ecological planning in human society occupies a key position in management of its relationship with the natural environment. Ecological principle lacks in majority residents of madimba (eco-village) that demands for demonstrations, massive awareness campaign and sensitisation. HIV/AIDS is a cross cutting issue that should not overlooked when implementing any Ecosan programmes.

People’s cultural background is an important influence factor on several aspects of livelihood, including their attitudes towards well being that include acceptance of Ecosan concepts especially in African societies. Implicit experiences and tacit knowledge revealed that cultural inheritance is an important factor that requires to be incorporated when designing Ecosan demonstration, awareness campaigns and sensitisation programmes to make it more focused and action oriented.


   Ecosan implementation in Zambia as a number of constraints such as lack of skilled knowledge on Ecosan principles, effective collaboration and networking on issues of ecological sanitation, absence of financial support (donors), are some of the hindrances to ecopsan implementation. Though gender perspective has its own negative aspects on implementation of Ecosan.


  The cost sharing strategy in the peri urban communities like Madimba depends on the legal framework designed at community level by various community structures to insure effective and efficient running of communal social amenities such as water sources.


  Developing a local Ecosan implementation model, should incorporate all the limiting factors such as cultural backgrounds; norms, gender perspectives and the socio-economic issues that may perceived as limiting factor to effective implementation of Ecosan programmes at local level especially in African societies. Although it is observed that a number of urban farmers have engaged in Ecosan without realising the dangers of row sewage and they earn a living to sustain their livelihood. This people they use row sewage in their fields and vegetable gardens.


Community participation on voluntary basis have been low due to the number of factors such as socio-economic status, lose of confidence in some civic leaders and lack of policy on community participation (volunterisium without legislation).




In order to answer the objectives of the study and make it action oriented, at the same time addressing both the problem of degrading peri urban ecosystem and improving livelihood of the vulnerable group, the poor, the following recommendations were made:


  • An economic analysis on Ecosan projects to determine their viability and sustainability must be conducted- the cost benefit analysis could be one approach.

  • Encourage targeted and action oriented Ecosan demonstrations, massive awareness campaigns and sensitisation through participatory approach.

  • Encourage a localised, holistically designed Ecosan projects that would incorporate cross cutting issues, cultural aspects, norms, gender etc.

  • Promote more Advanced International Training programmes in ecological alternative sanitation, targeting Ecosan activist, Ecosan project managers etc.




 CSO, (2004). 2000Census of Population and Housing; Analytical report, Lusaka.

Gear M. Kajoba 1998, Environmental, Social and Economic Development Issues in Zambia’s Third Republic . PP11 –12

GRZ-MLGH, (2001). Ministry of Local Government and Housing, Water and Sanitation Strategy for Peri-Urban Areas Report 1-5.

Kawanga, O.C., (2004). Madimba Baseline Survey. Network for the Environmental Concerns and Solutions (NECOS), Lusaka Zambia Report 4-5.

 Kjellen, M. and Mc Granahan, G., (1997). Urban water-Towards health and sustainability. Stockholm: Stockholm Environmental Institute.


Lusaka City Council and ECZ., (1998). Solid Waste Management Master Plan Project for the City of Lusaka.


Lusaka City Council and GRZ, (1997). An environmental Profile of the Greater Lusaka Managing the Sustainable Growth and Development of Lusaka.

 Musoke I. K., (1998). The Social-cultural Sector Study of the Shinyanga Human Development Report Project (HDRP), University of Dar Es Salaam, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology.

 Shinyanga R.G, UNDP (1998). Shinyanga Human Development Report - Shinyanga Region, Tanzania. The Institute of Development Studies, Sussex.   

Tjalingii, S. (1995) Ecopolis: Strategies for Ecologically Sound Urban Development. Leiden: Backhuys Publishers.

 Wamukwamba,C. K., and Share, W., (2001) “People and Systems for Water, Sanitation and health.” In: 27th WEDC Conference (ed.), Sewage waste management in the city of Lusaka 2001: 27th WEDC Conference 2001, Lusaka: Zambia.

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