Experiencing everyday sanitation governance : a critical inquiry into the governance of community-managed sanitation services in Indonesia and whether it could be otherwise

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Urban sanitation services have significant ramifications for public health and wellbeing, as well as environmental outcomes, and it remains a complex societal challenge in many developing countries. Although access to toilets is rapidly increasing, the long-term sustainability of sanitation service provision calls for far more than infrastructure β€” services also need to be governed in a sustainable manner. This transdisciplinary thesis, which sits in the intersection between international development, governance and design, delves deep into the governance of a specific type of (unsustainable) sanitation services: community-managed decentralised sanitation services in low-income urban communities in Indonesia. It questions the current reliance on, and perceived obviousness of, community management, and it explores whether governance could and, in some cases, perhaps should, be done otherwise. Situated in a medium-sized city in Indonesia, this study, which combines case study and action research methodologies, takes the form of a critical design inquiry β€” an inquiry geared towards change rather than critique alone. It offers a detailed account of how sanitation governance is currently done and how designerly ways of questioning and rethinking societal governance can be explored 𝑖𝑛 𝑠𝑖𝑑𝑒. It delves into the daily life and the experience of governance within three urban neighbourhoods, investigates the ongoing constitution of roles and responsibilities in service provision at the local government level and considers the broader governing effects of societal norms and values. Inspired by the tradition of participatory design, the thesis furthermore explicates how designerly governance disruptions were employed to question taken-for-granted ontologies of sanitation infrastructure and urban communities, as well as explore alternatives. Through this thesis, decentralised sanitation governance emerges as a complex and highly situated practice through which ontologies are established and sustained, and whereby sanitation infrastructure becomes a political instrument. Community member’s 𝑒π‘₯π‘π‘’π‘Ÿπ‘–π‘’π‘›π‘π‘’ of governance becomes a matter of central concern, highlighting the need to involve them, not only in choosing infrastructure but also in deciding β„Žπ‘œπ‘€ to govern service provision. Societal governance furthermore emerges as an important area for exploration and conscious engagement for designers. This thesis specifically offers three new insights for design: a typology of designerly strategies for questioning and rethinking societal governance, the notion of π‘Ÿπ‘’π‘‘π‘–π‘Ÿπ‘’π‘π‘‘π‘–π‘›π‘” as opposed to π‘šπ‘Žπ‘˜π‘–π‘›π‘” publics and, most importantly, a new field of design: governance design. Governance design refers to a form of deliberate design praxis that purposefully works at the ontological level to question and rethink the ontological constitution of people and things in societal governance.
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