A guide to strengthening the enabling environment for faecal sludge management

Experience from Bangladesh, Kenya and Zambia

This Guide presents an introduction to conceptualising and strengthening the enabling environment for faecal sludge management (FSM) services in low-income urban areas.

It is based on WSUP’s experience working with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop market-based solutions for on-site sanitation services in the cities of Dhaka and Chittagong (Bangladesh), Kisumu (Kenya) and Lusaka (Zambia).

Why is FSM so important?

FSM is the process by which faecal sludge is contained, collected, transported, treated and then safely disposed of or reused. 2.7 billion (38%) people around the world are dependent on on-site sanitation facilities like pit latrines and septic tanks, which contain and partially treat faecal sludge on-site (as opposed to centralised systems like sewers that remove waste from households and transport it to treatment facilities).

In light of the vast numbers of people who depend on on-site sanitation, there is no serious prospect of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 without the development of reliable, safe FSM systems covering the full sanitation chain.

Accordingly, FSM is now a major focus for governments and development organisations, particularly in urban and urbanising areas where constructing sewer networks is expensive and unrealistic in the medium-term (most low-income communities or informal settlements fall into this category); and where there is little space available to simply cover full pits and dig new ones.

Achieving citywide sanitation in such locations typically requires both on-site and sewered systems and may also include non-centralised small bore/condominial sewer systems.

While non-sewered (on-site) facilities sequester harmful waste from direct human contact (if properly constructed and maintained), how that waste is dealt with beyond those pits and tanks is too often a secondary consideration.

What do we mean by the enabling environment, and why this focus?

The market for on-site sanitation products and services will only thrive if it is supported by strong financial and institutional frameworks, complete with clear policies, regulations, technical assistance and political buy-in.

It is factors like these that comprise the enabling environment.

The report provides insights into seven components for the enabling environment:

Institutional mandates

Regulatory effectiveness

Service provider capacity

Private sector enablement

Infrastructure and technology

Affordability and consumer willingness to pay

Consumer behaviour