Towards a comprehensive geography of sanitation: Using mixed-methods to explore place-making in Morogoro, Tanzania.

Authors: Cassandra Workman*, North Carolina State University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Water Resources and Hydrology, Development
Keywords: Sanitation, Tanzania, mixed-method
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Balcony A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Within Tanzania, 74.7% of the population has access to improved drinking water while only 35% have access to improved sanitation, and the coverage of these technologies varies widely (Pullen et al. 2014). Due to the lack of improved water and sanitation in Tanzania, 27.6 deaths per 100,000 people are related to water, sanitation or hygiene (WHO 2012). For children under five, diarrheal diseases account for 12% of all deaths (Liu et al. 2014). The sole focus on technical approaches to developing water and sanitation (watsan) has neglected the experiences associated with human waste, creating taboos and unequal geographies of shit (Jewitt 2011). Indeed, technological innovations must be understood within a cultural context as individuals assign meaning to the built environment. Infrastructure, including sanitation, is both political and poetic (Larkin 2013). Moreover, the materiality of infrastructures drives how we experience our own biology and waste. Cultural understandings of water safety and sanitation link to knowledge of disease transmission and causation. As a part of a larger Household Water InSecurity Experiences (HWISE) study, this research examines the convergence of water insecurity and sanitation in Morogoro, Tanzania. Specifically, a mixed-method approach including the HWISE household water insecurity scale, a quantitative assessment of latrine conditions, in-depth interviews about disease etiology, and participatory photo-elicitation of cultural conceptions of sanitation was used to explore the lived-experience of watsan insecurity and the place-making associated with sanitation infrastructure. Drawing on theory and method from anthropology and geography, this paper presents preliminary findings towards a comprehensive geography of sanitation.

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