Over 20 years the Orangi Pilot Project has been working to understand the problems of Orangi, a district of Karachi largely characterised by high-density informal settlement, and enable its residents to develop and implement solutions. Sanitation was identified as the major problem and a sewerage system was built. From this work was developed the “internal-external” concept for sanitation, which has 4 levels: sanitary latrines in houses; underground sewer in lane; neighbourhood collector sewer; and trunk sewer and treatment plant. The first three components are “internal” and can be undertaken by low-income communities; the “external” fourth component has to be funded and carried out by government or similar agency. Successful and unsuccessful attempts elsewhere to replicate this model have both confirmed the effectiveness and practicality of such community-based action and shown the – largely organisational – pitfalls that must be avoided.

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