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Examining the methodology of participatory design to create innovative sanitation technologies in rural Malawi

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conference contribution
posted on 2018-02-12, 15:10 authored by Ben Cole, John V. Pinfold, G. Ho, Martin Anda
Top-down sanitation programs that promote a specific sanitation technology based on the presumptions of ‘outside experts’ have been criticised for endorsing unsustainable, expensive and inappropriate technologies. In response to these failings, a new era of demand-led sanitation programs (including community-led total sanitation and sanitation marketing) encourage greater participation of users to create appropriate sanitation technologies. This paper examines the use of participatory design sessions with local builders and householders in three rural districts in Malawi. The paper provides an account of the participatory design methodology and critically reflects on the processes and challenges in relation to power, creativity and ownership. The designs created during the sessions are presented with recommendations for further testing and structural refinement.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Research Unit

  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)

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WEDC Conference


COLE, B. ... et al, 2013. Examining the methodology of participatory design to create innovative sanitation technologies in rural Malawi. IN: Shaw, R.J. (ed). Delivering water, sanitation and hygiene services in an uncertain environment: Proceedings of the 36th WEDC International Conference, Nakuru, Kenya, 1-5 July 2013, 6pp.


© WEDC, Loughborough University


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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