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Unisex urinal usability testing in Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Nairobi

By Julia Seitz (GIZ). Information provided by Karsten Gjefle (karsten@susan-design.org) and Emery Sindani (emery@susan-design.org).

A Nairobi informal settlement was chosen for testing the usability of unisex urinals in an urban area severely lacking basic sanitation. The sanitation situation in informal settlements is often characterised by dirty or filled up latrines, long queues of waiting users, or drunkards and bang smoking men around the facilities, all of which makes it hard, especially for women, to use public facilities.

The usability testing of the unisex urinals took place in a school (Mukuru Kwa Njenga primary school) and in 20 households as follows: 1 week in the school, 2 weeks in the first group of homesteads and 2 weeks in the second group of families. Amongst the participants was also a girl that faced a state of emergency.
Young girl participating in household testing. Yellow jerry can/urinal under the table.
A bedridden girl, who sustained burns to her thighs. The urinal was helpful in her situation, since she could stay in bed while urinating.
The usability of the urinals was tested with respect to the shape and size indicating if its height, width and length allow comfortable usage and no splashing of urine when urinating, odor (smell) that could make it repugnant to be used, the urine flow in reference to the diameter of the funnel mouth allowing ease and quick flow in the container. The colour that can make the urinal attractive to the taste of some users and the usage frequency, though noted, are secondary to this testing.
Young boy testing the urinal.
From the responses, all the users expressed their joy and satisfaction in using the urinal. The majority of them found the urinal convenient in terms of avoiding frequent movements outside, thus time saving. They furthermore felt that the urinals address the issue of night insecurity, enhance their savings by avoiding pay toilets, improve the area hygiene and address the problem of toilet scarcity.
 Participation of school children.
Despite a majority of positive feedback, some challenges/problems were encountered by female users. These were attributed to the following:
– Inability to use when children are present in the house.
– High in level thus affecting the usability and low quality of the supporting tape.
– Narrow top plate.
– Small drainage pipe.

Although such difficulties occurred, participants very much liked the urinals and requested to keep them after the testing and to have more urinals that would be enough for everyone in the area. They have expressed the need of having a similar project for faeces and of adjusting the urinal unit to suit its use by young girls.

Group discussion.
There was a strong expression that the urinal would be a key solution to the deteriorated sanitation situation in the area. ‘The irresponsible behaviour of emptying used containers in the open environment, use of flying toilets and open air urinating due to shortage of toilet facilities would be addressed with the use of Susan Design Unisex urinal’, a  participant said.

The full report on the urinal testing is available on SuSanA:

More photos documenting the usability testing can be seen on flickr:

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