Published in: 2011
WaterAid, consultancy report for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, USA
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A well-coordinated effort over the past few years in Bangladesh has made it possible to reduce the rate of open defecation significantly. However, this rapid increase of fixed place defecation through different on-site technologies has created a new challenge of faecal sludge management that is yet to receive attention. This study which is part of a multi-country study coordinated and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides evidence from three major cities of Bangladesh that in an absence of any safe emptying, transportation, dumping, treatment and disposal mechanism in the country, most of the sludge generated are going again to the surface water that ultimately shatter the gains achieved through increased sanitation coverage.
With predominant on-site technologies, most septic tanks and pits require emptying at certain interval, which is mostly done manually by the sweepers. The emptied sludge is usually dumped in nearby open drain or water-body. This practice ultimately regenerates the risks of faecal matter re-enter into the domestic environment. Poorer groups who mostly dwell in unsafe environment are most sufferer of this; however, the risk remains also high for those who practice safe sanitation.
Mere absence of proper FS management service in Bangladesh by the public and private sectors strongly indicates that there is a widespread lack of understanding and awareness about its health and environmental impacts. Regulatory mechanism is unclear, enforcement is seriously weak and government service agencies lack capacity, motivation and resources. Despite good intentions, this state does not allow NGOs to play an effective role to improve the situation.
This study also suggests that without a comprehensive system, mere introduction of a business model comprising one or two components by private sector agent may not be a standalone solution to address this huge problem. It is therefore important to work at different levels and pilot different approaches so that the successful working model could be scaled up.
The country context as well as the regulatory framework demands the municipalities to take the responsibility of FS management. However, there are serious lack of awareness; and huge resource and capacity gaps amongst the municipalities to manage FS. Awareness raising as well as advocacy and lobbying at the national level based on demonstrated business model of comprehensive FS management in municipalities by the NGOs in partnership with municipalities could be a potential way forward.
Government-NGO collaboration model could be limited in piloting service delivery models for emptying and transportation by the NGOs while Municipalities to allocate space for dumping and installation and running of treatment plant yielding bio-gas and compost (under experimentation by WaterAid). Different modalities should be experimented in different types of municipalities (Large, medium and small). Successful demonstration of pilot schemes would be advocated for nationwide scaling up through public-private partnership.
Aftab Opel (corresponding author)
M Khairul Bashar
M Feroze Ahmed
Program Development Officer
315 Madison Avenue, Suite 2301
New York, NY 10017
WaterAid (2011). Landscape Analysis and Business Model. Assessment in Faecal Sludge Management: Extraction and Transportation Models in Bangladesh - Final report. WaterAid, consultancy report for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, USA
Asia & Pacific English Faecal sludge treatment processes
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