The Barcelona Settled Sewerage Pilot Project was established as a collaborative partnership between researchers from the University of Cape Town's Urban Water Management Group, City of Cape Town Water and Sanitation officials and Barcelona Informal Settlement Street Committee members. Its goal is to test collaboratively the viability of a settled sewerage system in an informal settlement (slum), Barcelona, located on a former landfill site. Direct engagement by officials and researchers with beneficiaries is crucial for such a project's success; therefore, a partnership approach was adopted. This also permitted researchers to assist municipal officials, since they faced capacity constraints. It became apparent over the course of the project that the partnership had been poorly set up and that partners' roles and responsibilities required renegotiation. Much literature emphasises the significance of ‘people-centred’ approaches, focusing on the ultimate users, in this instance as ‘owners’ of toilets. However, the study found that, in a South African context, partnerships need to designate the municipality as the responsible owner and managing partner of municipality-funded services. The critical challenges facing such a partnership approach suggest a need to build effective municipality-led and managed partnerships that simultaneously address each partner's needs and constraints.

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