New Blog Series - Integrating Fecal Sludge & Solid Waste Management


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  • rochelleholm
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Re: New Blog Series - Integrating Fecal Sludge & Solid Waste Management

A good case study on fecal sludge and solid waste management and the inclusion of stakeholders from Malawi is at:

Holm, R. H., Chunga B. A., Mallory, A., Parker, A. and Hutchings, P. A qualitative study of NIMBYism for waste in smaller urban areas of a low-income country, Mzuzu, Malawi. Environmental Health Insights, 2021, 15, pages 1-11. DOI: 10.1177/1178630220984147

When waste management infrastructure is built, there can be resistance from the local affected populations, often termed the Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) phenomenon. This study aims to understand the forms of resistance that may develop in such contexts, focusing on 2 solid waste and 1 liquid waste management site within Mzuzu City, Malawi. At the newest solid waste site, community resistance had grown to the extent that the site was reportedly destroyed by the local community. Interviews and observations of the sites are complemented by examining historic and recent satellite images. It was found that, at the new solid waste site, community engagement had not been conducted effectively prior to construction and as part of ongoing site operations. This was compounded by poor site management and the non-delivery of the promised benefits to the community. In contrast, at the liquid waste site, the community could access untreated sludge for use as fertilizer and were happier to live within its vicinity. While NIMBYism is a frustrating phenomenon for city planners, it is understandable that communities want to protect their health and well-being when there is a history of mismanagement of waste sites which is sadly common in low-income settings. It is difficult for government agencies to deliver these services and broader waste management. In this study, an unsuccessful attempt to do something better with a legitimate goal is not necessarily a failure, but part of a natural learning process for getting things right.
Rochelle Holm, Ph.D., PMP
Mzuzu (Malawi)
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  • Verele
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Re: New Blog Series - Integrating Fecal Sludge & Solid Waste Management

Dear Chaiwe,

Sorry to have not replied sooner, it somehow slipped through.

In reply to your question regarding how to ensure buy-in at the different levels of intervention, we can refer to the Diamond approach as has been developed by WASTE. One of the first remarks on this is that it takes time to ‘build’ the Diamond. The stakeholders must know and agree upon their own roles and responsibilities, and also know what they can expect from each others. But maybe more importantly, there should be a trust that everybody is on board and willing to work towards the common goal.  To create this trust takes time and often it is good to take baby steps in the process. Normally we would reserve one year for this process with regards that there should not be too many obstacles on the way. One of the bigger obstacles would be an election in that year as this brings a lot of decision making to a halt.

I have asked my colleague Stan Maessen, who has applied the Diamond approach on more detailed answer. As follows

Experience shows that often interventions in the solid wasteor faecal sludge sectors do not include all stakeholders. It is important that everyone gets a place in the decision-making process and the designing of the system. Many interventions do not consider the entire system (value chain) but focus only on, for instance, collection. Not considering transport and disposal (or reuse) might very well lead to inappropriate collection system. It is quite possible to focus only on the collection of solid waste, for example, but you must have an idea of ​​what the rest of the system looks like. A good analysis of the entire system (value chain) is therefore important. Time is another factor. Quick wins are often not possible and it takes time to get everyone to look the same way. Only if you succeed to get consensus progress can be made .
The order is therefore ideally as follows:
  • first involve all stakeholders (or representatives of interest groups) in the process and give them a place in the decision-making structure
  • make a good analysis of the entire chain together ,
  • make a plan of action together, based on achievable goals and, above all, based on a realistic view of responsibilities.
I want to illustrate what I mean by this with an example: Everyone knows that the municipalities are responsible for the proper functioning of SWM in particular from a public health perspective. However, most municipalities are simply not equipped to fulfil this task. And will not in the near future. Delegation to eg the private sector is one of the possibilities to achieve the goal. In such a case it make sense to propose a delegated responsibility from local government to the private sector. Having responsibility is one thing, operationalizing that responsibility is another. When aligning the stakeholders, it is important to consider the following questions:
  • who is responsible (according to the law)? ,
  • can the organisation bear the responsibility operationally?
  • If not, to whom can the responsibility be delegated to? And important,
  • does the delegated organisation wants to take this responsibility
In preparing the plan of action, responsibilities and delegations need to be made very clear. If the stakeholders have a common vision and a plan of action supported by all, only then other issues can be dealt with like technical and financial matters when designing and adjusting the system. Because don't forget, often more than you think is already happening .

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  • Chaiwe
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Re: New Blog Series - Integrating Fecal Sludge & Solid Waste Management

Dear Kimmee,

It is a common problem that Solid waste is disposed of in sanitation facilities mostly by households lacking solid waste management options across the globe. Menstrual hygiene products and various domestic waste are the most prevalent solid waste present in pit latrines. This echoes the need for countries to enact laws and standards for sanitation systems and they must be adequately enforced and there is a great need for community awareness on SWM coupled with waste collection services.  For many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, waste management has continued to be one of the greatest challenges facing  OSS and FSM systems and interventions.

In as much as it is not a recent problem, the volume of waste being generated continues to increase at a faster rate than the ability of service providers to improve on the financial and technical resources needed to curb this growth. Currently, Zambia for example is struggling to manage its waste under tight budgets, and highly inadequate and malfunctioning waste management
systems. In most urban areas in Zambia, only a small fraction of the waste generated daily is collected and safely disposed of. The rest is anyone’s guess

Therefore, having looked at the website and followed the Blog series, I would like to appreciate the holistic approach being taken to overcome this challenge. Considering this is a targeted approach involving different players, how do you ensure buy-in at the different levels of intervention, being well aware that if one stakeholder within the chain does not fully buy into the intervention then that affects the 'Diamond' model?

SuSanA Forum Moderator
Skat Foundation (With financial support by GIZ and SIRWASH up to November 2023)

Chaiwe Mushauko-Sanderse BSc. NRM, MPH
Independent consultant located in Lusaka, Zambia
Emails: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Twitter: @ChaiweSanderse

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  • kimmee22
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New Blog Series - Integrating Fecal Sludge & Solid Waste Management

Hello everyone! I thought you all may be interested to see a new 5-part blog series that FLUSH collaborated on with WASTE and DalO Systems to explore integrating waste business and operating models. The overall story is that - it can be done, and has! Now we just have to figure out how to do it well.

The five blogs in the series have the following themes:
  1. WE HAVE A (WASTE) PROBLEM , we learned that the world has a waste problem with both solid and fecal waste. 
  2. SOURCE SEPARATION IS WASTE’S ACHILLES HEEL  shows the importance of segregation of wet waste and dry waste to facilitate the linking of the two sectors
  3. CIRCULAR (SANITATION) ECONOMY BUSINESS MODELS  discusses the opportunity to integrate solid waste management (SWM) and fecal sludge management (FSM) to create effective waste business models. 
  4. BUSINESS MODELS IN PRACTICE  we shared how the day-to-day operations of an integrated waste management system would work.
  5. INCREASING INTEGRATED WASTE IMPACT: BRINGING IT TO PRACTICE  highlights one of WASTE’s developments in practice via its Collaborative Local Urban Environmental Services (CLUES) City Assessment.
Check it all out on WASTE's site, and let me know if you have questions!
NYU BS '08 | NYU MPA '10 | IWC/UQ MIWM '16
Sanitation Services Consultant & Edutainer
Founder, FLUSH LLC
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