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OVERDUE. Tackling the sanitation taboo across urban Africa
This project aims to interrogate the sanitation taboo across Urban Africa, as a site where everyday crises exacerbate and are exacerbated by health crisis like COVID19, and where gender inequality continues to be reproduced across colonial legacies and post-colonial conditions. Sanitation has long been recognised as a human right - the very basic right to dispose safely of human waste - yet we witness a persistent everyday rights violation endured by 60% of the urban population in Africa and 2.4 billion people worldwide (JMP 2015 figures). If sanitation promises have repeatedly been unfulfilled and sidelined, the issue has certainly not remained out of sight to the millions of women, girls, men and boys who cope with infrastructural neglect and inflated sanitation costs. However, dominant, and permanent, crisis discourses, have often subtly depoliticized, technicised and individualized their needs. Considering the urban sanitation challenge as a “taboo”, an unspoken and marginalized issue, the OVERDUE project combines an analysis of its materiality and of its imperceptibility, to provide fresh insights on the ‘urban sanitation crisis’. It challenges the way such crisis is framed, bringing to the forefront the experiences and expectations of women and girls, men and boys, ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ sanitation providers and the legacies of overlapping and discontinued interventions. Doing so, it aims to shed light on the gaps, and support the synergies, between grid and off-grid efforts and the wide spectrum of practices in between. OVERDUE brings together a constellation of academics, practitioners, activists and organisations working in, on, and with the fast-growing and medium-size cities of Beira (Mozambique), Freetown (Sierra Leone), and Mwanza (Tanzania). The team includes Pascale Hofmann, Julian Walker and Colin Marx at DPU, working in close collaboration with African-based research institutions (Ardhi University and the Centre for Community Initiatives in Tanzania, Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre and COWI Mozambique), community based and grassroots organizations, as well as international and regional organizations (COWI Denmark, L’Etre Egale in France). For more information, please contact Prof. Adriana Allen (a.allen@ucl.ac.uk)
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