Category Archives: Sanitary Facilities

Faecal Sludge Management: WASH in Emergencies Problem Exploration Report

WASH in Emergencies Problem Exploration Report: Faecal Sludge Management, 2016. Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF).

This report puts forward a few areas for further exploration and development.

Easy to implement, portable toilet systems: New toilet system designs are needed that can allow for the better management of faecal sludge accumulation and can facilitate regular emptying. The designs should also consider the integration of additive mixing and dosing devices.

Standardised guidelines for assessing existing sanitation equipment: Guidelines could propose a method for evaluating available local equipment such as sewer trucks (e.g. number, state, storage capacity, spare parts and connecting), and other tools such as de-sludging pumps.

New protocols for the treatment and control of faecal sludge accumulation: Studies have shown that it is more reliable to consider the control of the accumulation before the latrine is in use, than to try to absolutely reduce existing sludge volume. It is clear that some additives work but further research is needed to understand how and when to use these. Research and experimentation studies should continue to test and compare bio-additives, as well as define new protocols and objectives.

Evaluation of speedy aerobic and anaerobic treatment concepts: Additional research needs to be carried out to assess the field effectiveness of both speedy aerobic and anaerobic treatment concepts in reducing the volume of sludge collected from pits. For anaerobic process concepts, feasibility studies can also help determine if biogas resulting from the process can be used for downstream application.

Guidelines for assessing and improving dumping sites: Practical guidelines for assessing existing dumping sites would be very beneficial, as well as suggested solutions and options on how to improve the capacity of storing and disposing of faecal sludge during a period of emergency. However, even with such guidelines, the process would not be straightforward as setting up or improving a dumping site requires skilled people, qualified in the area of environmental engineering.

Standard for Sewage Treatment Plants in Developing Countries

Standard for Sewage Treatment Plants in Developing Countries. Source: PR Newswire, Jan. 19, 2016.

A standard for sewage treatment plants is to improve the sanitation situation in developing countries. The international technical services group TÜV SÜD has been awarded a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to assess facilities aimed at 1,000 to 100,000 people. The project started in November 2015 and is designed for a term of seven months.

Over one-third of the global population do not have access to functioning sanitation facilities and sewage disposal. This lack of sanitation adversely affects social and economic development in the countries concerned and is also a source of significant environmental pollution. One challenge is the treatment of sludge that even if collected in conventional pit latrines or sewage tanks often there is a lack of proper disposal. “Sustainable improvement of this situation requires innovative technologies that support decentralized solutions for sanitation facilities and wastewater treatment“, says Dr Andreas Hauser, Director of Water Services at TÜV SÜD. The Omni Processor concept for example, might convert faecal sludge and possibly other solid organic wastes into beneficial outputs such as biomass for generating electricity, potable or drinking and non-potable water for irrigation or other purposes and ash without any negative impact on the environment.

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Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth and Environmental Enteropathy in Bangladeshi Children

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth and Environmental Enteropathy in Bangladeshi Children. mBio, Jan 2016

Authors: Jeffrey R. Donowitz, Rashidul Haque, et al.

Recent studies suggest small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is common among developing world children. SIBO’s pathogenesis and effect in the developing world are unclear. Our objective was to determine the prevalence of SIBO in Bangladeshi children and its association with malnutrition. Secondary objectives included determination of SIBO’s association with sanitation, diarrheal disease, and environmental enteropathy.

The strongest predictors of SIBO were decreased length-for-age Z score since birth (odds ratio [OR], 0.13; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.03 to 0.60) and an open sewer outside the home (OR, 4.78; 95% CI, 1.06 to 21.62). Recent or frequent diarrheal disease did not predict SIBO. The markers of intestinal inflammation fecal Reg 1β (116.8 versus 65.6 µg/ml; P = 0.02) and fecal calprotectin (1,834.6 versus 766.7 µg/g; P = 0.004) were elevated in SIBO-positive children. Measures of intestinal permeability and systemic inflammation did not differ between the groups.

These findings suggest linear growth faltering and poor sanitation are associated with SIBO independently of recent or frequent diarrheal disease. SIBO is associated with intestinal inflammation but not increased permeability or systemic inflammation.

Norms, Knowledge and Usage: Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights

Chambers, R. and Myers, J. (2016) ‘Norms, Knowledge and Usage’, Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights Issue 7, Brighton: IDS.

The partial or total non-use of toilets, with some or all in a household defecating in the open, is a growing concern. Although all households may have a toilet, communities cannot remain open defecation free unless they are always used by everyone. clts

This is not just an issue of maintenance and accessibility but also of social norms, mind-sets, and cultural preferences. The problem is widespread but most evident in India.

This issue of Frontiers of CLTS asks how serious the problem is, why it occurs, what can be done about it, and what more needs to be known.

It is an attempt to summarise current knowledge as a first step in exploring and learning about this growing obstacle to attaining and sustaining ODF status in some parts of the world.

Q&A: Toilets confront climate change

Q&A: Toilets confront climate change. Source: SciDev, Jan 5, 2015.

  • Urban water shortages mean flushing toilets are poor option
  • Off-grid toilets are resilient after disasters like flooding
  • Households could hire rather than buy toilets

Two-and-a-half billion people worldwide have no access to safe, durable sanitation systems. Brian Arbogast, director of the water, sanitation and hygiene programme at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, tells SciDev.Net how innovative toilet technologies and business models could help fix this — and help communities cope with the devastation of climate change.

How does climate change impact sanitation?

With sea levels rising, you have flooding that causes huge health problems. As latrines and septic tanks get flooded and waste goes into the streets and streams, it can carry a lot of disease, including cholera, dysentery and typhoid.

The problem is that the world has only one gold standard for sanitation, which is having flush toilets connected to sewer lines, that are further connected to big and expensive wastewater treatment plants. Growing cities that already have water shortages may not have enough water for everybody to bathe and cook, let alone to flush toilets. So, are these cities going to follow the same path we have taken for the last century in developed cities?

Spending on sewer systems and treatment plants would be as bad an idea as building a new coal power plant. You are committing to the next 50 years and if you are going to have an infrastructure that requires a lot of water and electricity, you are only making your city less resilient in the face of climate change.

Read the complete article.

IIED – Building towards a future in which urban sanitation “leaves no one behind”

Building towards a future in which urban sanitation “leaves no one behind,” 2015. Diana Mitlin, IIED.

Full text

Plans to improve access to sanitation in towns and cities of the global South are hampered by multiple challenges. One is a lack of reliable information. In particular, global and national-level data often diverge from data on particular settlements, collected by inhabitants of those settlements themselves. Local data highlight the inadequacy of living conditions – and in so doing evidence the difficulties in securing improvements. Another challenge lies in the setting of standards around acceptable sanitation. At a global level, for instance, shared sanitation is not considered part of “improved” sanitation. Yet the reality for many low-income urban populations is that communal sanitation can be hygienic, cost-effective and locally acceptable.

The difficulties in reaching a consensus around data and standards point to the importance of diverse approaches to increasing and improving sanitation, including considering both on-site and off-site solutions.

They also highlight how crucial it is for the planning and implementation of all such solutions to be inclusive of those often missing from global debates, such as the low-income urban groups that cannot afford substantial sanitation spending. Financial and political commitments, drawing on the circumstances and approaches articulated by low-income groups themselves, will be key to securing a future in which everyone has access to the sanitation they need.

Focus on people, not their toilets

Q&A with WSSCC’s Carolien van der Voorden about whether building toilets is sufficient for stopping open defecation

About herself: “I work for the Global Sanitation Fund of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). The Fund is all about collective sanitation and hygiene behaviour change to tackle the sanitation crisis, currently working in 13 countries in Africa and Asia to demonstrate viable models that result in open defecation free (ODF) communities, districts and states, and can pave the way towards ODF nations.”

Q: Do you think the SDG of ending open defecation by 2030 is realistic?

A: We have to believe the goal is feasible, if governments and all their partners agree on common strategies and roadmaps that are based on collective behaviour change and demand creation rather than on subsidy driven approaches which, apart from their effectiveness, in most countries would require many times more the financial resources than are available.

Copy-of-household-toilet-120

Photo: WSSCC

Q: How can someone be convinced to want and use a toilet, when they don’t currently?

A: Some of GSF’s country programmes are having great success applying the community led total sanitation (CLTS) approach. This can really work, just look at Madagascar’s programme has so far resulted in more than 11,000 communities declared ODF, but it does come with challenges in terms of going to scale with quality. We are finding that especially the quality of facilitation, and the need to make sure community engagement is a process of pre-triggering, triggering and strong follow-up, are two key elements.

It is not a silver bullet but we have seen the approach work in many different circumstances and countries. The key as far as we can see it, is to ensure these “demand creation interventions” are really community driven, which is sometimes tricky when CLTS becomes government policy or strategy and so local governments might feel pressured to push communities into ODF, rather than these being real community learning journeys.

Our Madagascar colleagues put a lot of emphasis on the principle that community problems require community solutions – to make sure these do not become outsider-driven programmes. This is not to say that the communities do not need support and advice, but even there we have found that many of the most innovative solutions to deal with specific infrastructure issues come from within the community.

Q: 11,000?! That’s impressive. By “declared” you mean self-declared? Or independently verified?

A: Verification in Madagascar is a five step process where the fourth and fifth steps are third party verification.

The numbers we publish are at the very least based on three steps of verification, where communities first self declare are then checked by sub-grantees and then by our Executing Agency, and some of them also by the additional third party verifiers.

Q: What behaviour change initiatives around hygiene do we know work? Can/how they be replicated or adapted to reduce open defecation rates?

A: We see hygiene and sanitation messages as linked, especially the need for systematic hand washing with soap or ash. The three key behaviours to defeat ODF, keeping toilets fly proof and washing hands after using the toilet and before preparing food are the key ways to ensure that communities are key to our CLTS approaches. As well as being the key indicators for declaring a community ODF.

Q: How can governments be encouraged to take the lead on this issue?

A: I think there is real value in showing what is possible if government dedicates the necessary resources and really gets involved, at all levels.

In some of our programmes we’ve had success in doing institutional triggering, where decision makers, from the president down to the local councillor, are taken on the same journey as communities are and they get triggered to take action in whatever way is most relevant and appropriate linked to their position.

In terms of the president of Madagascar, this helped to establish the national Roadmap towards ODF. And more importantly, doing this at the local level really creates the sense of a movement for change, where everybody is clear on the role they have to play and puts that into concrete action plans that they can then hold each other accountable for.

Another thing we have learned from our programmes in Uganda and Nigeria, where local governments are the implementing agents, that capacity building and training of trainers can only go so far. The real capacity comes from learning on the job, and that requires an implementation budget.

There is no point just training local governments and then leave it at that. There must be a focus on implementation and continuous presence in order to refine strategies and approaches. As said before, there is no silver bullet so even CLTS needs to be continuously adapted and local governments must be given a chance to learn and understand this on the job over time.

Q: Any final comment?

A: Lift every stone, increase the movement, find champions and most importantly, focus on people, less on their toilets!

The original Q&A was hosted by Katherine Purvis of the Guardian and can be found here.