Definition of 'faecal sludge' as 'waste' - under Zambian act of law

  • hajo
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defintion of 'faecal sludge' as 'waste'

dear all,

I want to have your opinion and if possible also the respective arguments whether 'faecal sludge' (i.e. from pit latrines) can be considered as 'waste' under the following definition contained in a Zambian act of law:

“waste” means garbage, refuse, sludges and other discarded substances resulting from industrial and commercial operations and domestic and community activities, ...

My interpretation is: sludges = faecal sludge and faecal sludge stems from 'domestic activities' therefore 'faecal sludge' = 'waste' in the sense of this act.

Do you agree or disagree and why?

thanks for helping,
ciao Hajo

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Re: Definition of 'faecal sludge' as 'waste' - under Zambian act of law

Hi Hajo,

Your question on the forum seems to have been a bit overlooked.
Did you in the meantime progress if further perhaps with your Zambian colleagues? What are the differen arguments and what would be the implications?

I know that in Germany as part of the SANIRESCH project ( www.susana.org/en/knowledge-hub/projects/database/details/282 ) there was a debate whether urine falls into the category "waste" or not. If I remember right then the odd thing was that as soon as it was mixed with a bit of water, it is classified as wastewater (and hence a type of waste) but pure urine is not a waste according to the law.

Maybe more important would be to think about this: is it beneficial for you if fecal sludge is classified as a waste, or is it not beneficial (e.g. with regards to reuse options or with regards to funding options)?

Hoping that others may chime in, too.

Regards,
Elisabeth

P.S. You might find this discussion on Wikipedia interesting where we debated whether the term "human waste" should rather be renamed to "human excreta" on Wikipedia:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Human_waste
(at the moment if someone enters "human excreta" in the search field, it gets redirected to "human waste". It might be better if it was the other way around)
Kai and Joe also talked about it on our discussion forum here: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/discus...-and-wikipedia#13575

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  • hajo
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Re: Definition of 'faecal sludge' as 'waste' - under Zambian act of law

Hi Elisabeth,

I had given up receiving any comment on my question, thanks for your pity… :cheer:

Background of my question is:

• Public stakeholders in Zambia (and Tanzania) are of the opinion that household latrines, their construction and their O&M (emptying!) is the sole business of the respective household. No public involvement in organising/managing pit emptying and transport.

• I think this wrong because the unsafe management of FS by informal, unlicensed pit emptier is a threat to the environment, to public health and in negation of the human right for sustainable sanitation (and water) service.

• The environmental act for Zambia specifies that “56.(1) A local authority shall, within its area of jurisdiction… (c) ensure that waste management services are provided within its jurisdiction in a manner which prioritises the recovery, re-use or recycling of waste and provides for the treatment and safe disposal of waste..

• Thus, if human excreta is waste in the sense of this act, then the LAs are responsible to provide emptying/collection services, and not just any but services which prioritise ‘closing the loop’. Which means, they also have to influence the treatment to that extent.

Ciao
Hajo

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
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Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of a genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
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Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
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  • muench
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Re: Definition of 'faecal sludge' as 'waste' - under Zambian act of law

Ah, now I understand why you would like "faecal sludge" be regarded as "solid waste" under the Zambian act of law.

This sounds really good but are the local authorities really providing this service? To all households and with affordable fees? Is there a willigness and ability to pay for this on behalf of the households?

A local authority shall, within its area of jurisdiction… (c) ensure that waste management services are provided within its jurisdiction in a manner which prioritises the recovery, re-use or recycling of waste and provides for the treatment and safe disposal of waste..


When they set up this legislation they were probably thinking of solid waste, not liquid waste, like faecal sludge?

Another problem could be that the consistency of the faecal sludge could vary a lot from one household to another, depending on the type of sanitation system they use (e.g. pit latrine, UDDT, flush toilet plus septic tank etc.). This could make a service arrangement much harder than for solid waste which is always pretty much the "same". We might need more standardisation of the (onsite) sanitation systems used in a neighborhood to make this service provision easier and more economic?
(related to that: scheduled septic tank emptying like in India (i.e. not waiting for the household to call for emptying but just doing it on a predetermined time interval): forum.susana.org/277-fsm-planning-tools-...ning-of-septic-tanks )

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • hajo
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Re: Definition of 'faecal sludge' as 'waste' - under Zambian act of law

Hi Elisabeth,

Of course do authorities not yet ensure collection services for FS from households.

That is what we try to encourage with our project:
that sustainable OSS is standardized, that service chains are planned, implemented and maintained, that the regulatory environment supports such services, that human waste is turned into resources;
that the authorities feel also responsible for services to the 1,500,000 residents who are not connected to sewers…

Ciao
Hajo

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of a genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein
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Re: Definition of 'faecal sludge' as 'waste' - under Zambian act of law

Sorry, my earlier post wasn't clear enough: I meant to ask: so how well is the actual, current solid waste management service that the local government agency is providing working? For solid waste such as food scraps, paper, plastic, glass and alike?
Are all households serviced and are the fees affordable?

I was under the impression that solid waste services also don't function in low income areas which is one reason why households might abuse the pits of pit latrines as a rubbish dump, or why piles of rubbish might be being burnt in the streets.

(we also have a category on solid waste here on the forum if anyone is interested in this topic: forum.susana.org/208-solid-waste-management )

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  • hajo
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Re: Definition of 'faecal sludge' as 'waste' - under Zambian act of law

Hi Elisabeth,

solid waste collection also does not work in the high density compounds... it is organised such that a Community Based Enterprise (CBE) should collect SW against a fee from the households and bring it to a central place in the compound from where the Lusaka City Council should collect and dump it on the official dump site... problems are as follows as we were told:
  • LCC does not collect regularly or not at all.
  • CBEs do not collect regularly or not at all.
  • Users do not pay regularly or not at all.

Yes, that is the reason why some SW ends in the pits. Although we understand the peoples' problem with SW, we will try to prevent it ending in the pits because it is only an exaggeration of the problem: now soiled SW has to be fished from the pits and be managed.

SATO or pour flush squatting pans should help reducing SW going into the pit. Further we think about charging extra for the collection of SW from pits at a tariff above collection of FS. We learned from SSG (pit emptying company in Kampala) that these two measures helped to reduce SW in pits considerably.

ciao
Hajo

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of a genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein
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Re: Definition of 'faecal sludge' as 'waste' - under Zambian act of law

Dear Hajo,

Sorry I jump in almost at the end of the discussion.
But personally I would wonder if there is any other article that specifically talks about feacal sludge. If not, then I would imagine that the term "Waste" would encompass the feacal sludge too. Only if we want to say that it is not considered in the Act.

At least picking from our current draft National Water Policy (not yet presented to parliament), there is clear categorization between waste and human excreta.

Rosemary
Uganda
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Re: Definition of 'faecal sludge' as 'waste' - under Zambian act of law

Hi Rosemary,

thanks for your contribution, it is never too late...

I appreciate that you follow my interpretation making 'human faeces' to 'waste' in the sense of the act.
We did not find in any regulations reference to FS that is why we followed that path.

But you mentioning 'the not yet approved water policy in Uganda', reminds me that we are in the same situation.
I will try and trace a draft water policy in Zambia and see whether it makes any reference.

But in the meantime we also had extended discussions with colleagues in the local authority and it seem to me that they do not need the legal obligation, they seem to have accepted already the responsibility for FS management. Which is one step although a somewhat easy one because the local authority has delegated all operational responsibility for water and sanitation in the city to the utility.

Now the utility needs to accept that the responsibility for water and sanitation includes not only sewers but also the service chains for septic tanks and pit latrines. Which is probably the harder work to convince them.

ciao
Hajo

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of a genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein
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