The Upward Spiral 5
- General information
UniversityAalto University, Finland
ProgramSustainable Global Technologies
TeamAnabel Fischer, Jacqui German, Venla Niva, Erik Salminen, Tuuli Teittinen, Will van Twuijver
PartnersUrban Transitioners, CCI, Phast Ujenzi
The Upward Spiral (2017) was a project to research the feasibility of producing humanure for commercial purposes in informal settlements. This research project was implemented as a part of The Sustainable Global Technologies studio course at Aalto University and brings together students from different fields to study in a multidisciplinary team. The approach increases understanding of other disciplines and enables adapting a holistic approach to search for more creative solutions to problematic situations.
This project emphasised the importance of an interdisciplinary teamwork. Our research team consisted of six individuals from four different countries and four different disciplines, comprising design, engineering and business experience.
The need for improving sanitation is clear, particularly in the developing world. Forty percent of the world’s population practice open defecation or lack adequate sanitation facilities. The consequences can be devastating for human health and for the environment. The problem is visible worldwide and affects mainly the lives of the poorest. Even in urban areas, where communal and household toilets are more common, over two billion people use toilets that are connected to septic tanks that discharge sewage into open drains or surface waters. Thus, access to sanitation facilities is a significant way to improve people’s well-being.
To enhance people’s well-being, the topic of improving sanitation conditions is pressing on the United Nations’ agenda. However, in the case of Tanzania, only 15 percent of the population has access to improved sanitation. Additionally, the country failed to meet the targets in the field of sanitation for the UN Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and thus evidently lags behind the intended improvement of sanitation conditions for its people.
Through a fresh, creative and holistic approach, the Upward Spiral 2017 aims as a students initiative under the Sustainable Global Technologies Studio Course at Aalto University to contribute to the goal of improved sanitation in Dar es Salaam.
During the site visit to Dar es Salaam and throughout the entire course, our team realised the importance of communication and cooperation among various stakeholders involved in the field of sanitation and defined them as key factors to tackle today’s sanitation challenges. But despite the potential of social enterprises, we also experienced the fragility of a system that highly depends on an uncertain environment.
Forms of presentation
The findings of the research by the Upward Spiral were presented in two forms:
First, our project report takes the form of a foldable newspaper. With each page the page doubles in size, the content slowly unfolds, enabling the reader to understand the complexity of the project one step at the time.
The second way of presenting is done through the creation of four educational ‘Kangas’, large pieces of cloth inspired by traditional Tanzanian garments. We hope our kanga’s will help the women in the communities to further explain their work and projects. The kanga’s can be worn as garment and serve as both a promotional and educational tool.