The Importance of Community Support
From the IDEO Ghanasan Team: The people in the community trust their leaders to filter information and present them with relevant information. It became clear to us in Kumsai, Ghana, that close involvement from elders, religious leaders and politicians would have to play a large role through-out the design process – as they are the community gate-keepers to the acceptance of new ideas.
We spent the day today in an informal Muslim settlement having very insightful conversations with some residents. We had actually visited this same area last week but found that people were not keen to speak with us and most eyed us with distrustful looks. We had walked away thinking we could never really reach the people in this community. This time, however, we prepared better by using our local network to contact the Assembly man for the settlement who helped us with setting up meetings with a local Imam, heads of households, and even audience with the Chief of the Ashanti Muslims (who oversees 3-4 million people). He walked us around the community and made the introductions. Gathering political and religious support, as well as seeking these community leaders’ permission prior to having conversations with the community made world of difference. All of the people we spoke to were welcoming, open, and willing to have honest conversations about the difficult topic of sanitation. These conversations have been extremely helpful to informing our early design directions and assumptions.
Read more from the Ghanasan Team at: http://ghanasan.wordpress.com/
Ghanasan was a collaborative project between IDEO, Unilever and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor to explore sanitation issues in Ghana. It pursued sustainable sanitation concepts for poor urban areas like Kumasi, the nation’s second-largest city, with a population of more than 1.5 million people.