The world can't wait for sewers - WSUP / EY Report on Clean Team Ghana - Advancing container-based sanitation businesses

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The world can't wait for sewers - WSUP / EY Report on Clean Team Ghana

Hello all,

EY's Enterprise Growth Services (EGS) unit and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) have been working hard over the past few months analyzing where the container-based sanitation business Clean Team currently stands, and the general direction the sector needs to head in. Please find here a link to the report summarizing those findings:
www.wsup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/...-Team-whitepaper.pdf

For those in / around London on April 6th, this may be a good opportunity to get discussions going ahead of the Sanitation Community of Practice (SanCoP) meeting at UCL on the topic of container-based sanitation.

Below is an excerpt from the intro of the report:

Governments can and should recognize that CBS offers a means to provide low-income urban populations with safe collection, transport and treatment of waste, at a fraction of the cost of installing and maintaining sewers or managing fecal sludge from on-site sanitation systems. By creating the right frameworks to incentivize participation of high-quality social entrepreneurs in building CBS businesses, and to encourage public-private partnerships between them and municipal authorities, governments can make it easier to bring improved sanitation to even their hardest-to-reach populations.

In our view, this is the way forward and there are positive signs of momentum. For example, the recently launched Kenya Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene Policy (2016–2030) incorporates sealable containers or cartridges as part of the mix of acceptable technology options for improving urban sanitation. Based on detailed financial analysis and modeling conducted for Clean Team in Ghana — and conversations with leading authorities on urban sanitation, including David Auerbach of Sanergy, Sasha Kramer of Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) and Peter Hawkins of the World Bank — the insights shared in this paper are intended to help accelerate that progress.

We hope it provides water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) stakeholders with a blueprint for taking CBS to the next level, gaining the recognition that it deserves as an improved sanitation option and scaling it as an important contributor to the achievement of SDG targets.


Georges
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  • SOILHaiti
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Re: The world can't wait for sewers - WSUP / EY Report on Clean Team Ghana

Thanks for sharing this Georges! It is wonderful to see the swell of interest in this emerging technology. The EY team recently visited SOIL as well and are working on preparing a similar analysis for this type of work in Haiti. We look forward to sharing insights with the SuSanA community as they become available. It is also worth noting the the World Bank is currently conducting a global evaluation of container-based sanitation (CBS) systems which will be a helpful starting point for making the comparison to more traditional sanitation technologies (both on-site and sewers). Sadly SOIL will not be able to attend the SanCoP meeting in London in April, but we are pleased that representatives of WSUP will be present to represent the sector.
Posted by the SOIL Team based in Haiti since 2006. Find more information about SOIL at:
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Re: The world can't wait for sewers - WSUP / EY Report on Clean Team Ghana

And just to throw a question into the discussion for folks to start reflecting on -

Has anyone else noticed that the burden of proof seems to be much higher for Container-Based Sanitation technologies when compared to more traditional approaches? For instance, the first question anyone asks about CBS systems is "what is your breakeven point"? Do people building latrines get asked the same question?
Posted by the SOIL Team based in Haiti since 2006. Find more information about SOIL at:
Website: www.oursoil.org
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Re: The world can't wait for sewers - WSUP / EY Report on Clean Team Ghana

REPLYING TO @SoilHaiti – I totally agree with you. But I think that is because CBS – given it is service driven rather than the standalone bucket toilet – is automatically assumed to be a business and therefore the first test of a business to many is can it sustain itself financially. This annoys me anyway because it negates the more sensible argument that subsidised sanitation systems may be required and the holy grail of a breakeven sanitation service will likely not exist for this target group given the economics and infrastructural constraints. Building a latrine is often an easy metric to show increase in access to sanitation regardless of the sustainability of that system. The cost attributed to it has been the cost of the toilet construction, often provided through a grant, subsidy or loan. As it’s not a service-driven programme, I feel the question comes up less. However, I do believe the SDGs will help push the agenda on sustainability of toilet systems more systematically into any future latrine construction and soon they will be asked the same question on financials.
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Re: The world can't wait for sewers - WSUP / EY Report on Clean Team Ghana

First of all well done to EY/WSUP. The sector has been crying out for this and I am particularly expressed at how you've articulated the financials into something easy for the reader to grasp but also consolidated a huge breadth of considerations for CBS so succinctly within this paper. It's a very good read which I found myself nodding enthusiastically too as I went through it.

I am posting what I have fed back to EY/WSUP here to help the dialogue and see if anyone agrees/disagrees or can contribute their thoughts to the discussion. Happy chatting!

Insight 3 - Toilet cost/durability issue is spot on. I do think however there is the possibility to explore addressing the 'conundrum' locally which I think certain organisations have scratched the surface looking into but was a proposal from when I was in Kisumu for WSUP in strategising where to research going forward. For HECA region there are multiple plastics manufacturers who could work on creating something like this with the main challenge being proving the investment potential. It's a catch 22. Until there is a big enough market to convince local manufacturers to invest in moulds to produce low-cost toilets, creating good quality ones locally is a struggle. So I don't think it can't be done, it's justifying why it should be done if the manufacturer has no guaranteed market currently. SilAfrica ( present.me/private/3BD50AF3-64CC-4FE1-824C68472D695FA5 ) is a good example of this sort of partnership but when we saw them trying to market it in Western Kenya there was initially a very low uptake.

Insight 4 - great section but feel one thing is missing on the complexity which is the relationship between the processing options and the upstream design of the toilet and requirement for faecal sludge quality and moisture content requirements.
Insight 5 & 6 - key connection for both here is that a driver for many low-income households to use CBS is the ability to maintain their own personal cleanliness (which is difficult in a shared space). That has been overwhelmingly the main driver in wanting a personal toilet with, as we talked about, people wanting to clean it if necessary. This not only emphasises need to understand the user and consumer but also emphasises the need for frequent collection.

Insight 7 - great bit of analysis just have a few queries on definitions
'low threat of competitors' -> who do you define as a competitor? Other CBS companies? Major competitors for CBS in these markets are the informal emptiers who achieve emptying goals cheaply, though not safely, in unregulated environments. Safe, regulated CBS companies find it hard to compete with these players in the market.

'precedent for paying for sanitation' -> agreed and this is where I think the PPP comes in very key and could have more emphasis. To maintain that precedent and mindset the face of these services has to be PPP not an NGO-driven otherwise there can become an expectation for 'free' services.

Insight 8 - one thing I don't think comes out and is a major factor is the budget attributed to sanitation at the government level compared to water. The 0% sanitation budget until 2020 in Kisumu at county level practically eradicated any form of PPP from them inputting into the model and we had to think of other ways that a PPP could support e.g. reduced rates for use of disposal facilities etc. Generally, the public sector were highly dependent on external grants/loans to pursue their sanitation goals. At the time, most grants were going either towards competitive pit latrine builds by NGOs; or massive infrastructure projects from bilateral donors or engineering-focused foundations (e.g. Veolia) on pipes for instance which shifted the focus of the public agenda away from supporting CBS initiatives either at household level or downstream processing support. So in addition to the PPP point, if these funding issues are being seen elsewhere too, I think highlighting to donors and their effect on public investment potential would be good.

CBS model 'plug and play' - I appreciate that the paper was written in the context of expanding the Clean Team CBS model but I think, as comes across in the paper, that flexibility in the model design and market chain is required to work in different local contexts. So, given all the different CBS models out there, it may be good to state that CBS can work with particular conditions common to all (e.g. your points in Figure 4) but that it would require a 'plug and play' type approach as different components may vary to meet local needs/context rather than the same model in every situation.
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Re: The world can't wait for sewers - WSUP / EY Report on Clean Team Ghana

Dear Georges and Katie,

Thanks for posting the report and the in-depth comments! Do you both work for Clean Team or are you consultants for them (oh wait, Georges is with WSUP - which is supporting Clean Team, right?)? Was the report useful for you? Is Clean Team changing any of its approaches based on the findings?

I wasn't familiar with the abbreviation EY, so I looked it up. It's Earnst & Young whom I do know ("EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services." )

Then I wondered, was it expensive to use EY but I found this information:

With Clean Team having grappled with these challenges in Kumasi
for several years, WSUP engaged EY to help. Through Enterprise
Growth Services — EY’s not-for-profit practice dedicated to
supporting social impact businesses in low-income countries

a team worked with Clean Team to identify means by which it could
achieve profitability and position itself to scale, including assessing
the viability of its CBS model in other markets.


I see the report has already been uploaded to the SuSanA library which is great:
www.susana.org/en/resources/library/details/2756

It's also been used already to inform the Wikipedia article on container-based sanitation, see here:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Container-based_sanitation

Georges and Katie, could you do me a favor and check if the way it is cited in the Wikipedia article is good? Have the main points from the report been translated well into lay person's terms? I've just added the information about PPPs which I found was quite interesting.

Oh and I also agree with the comment by someone * from the SOIL Haiti team who said:

Has anyone else noticed that the burden of proof seems to be much higher for Container-Based Sanitation technologies when compared to more traditional approaches? For instance, the first question anyone asks about CBS systems is "what is your breakeven point"? Do people building latrines get asked the same question?


The same applies to pathogen removal. You probably also get high scrutiny regarding pathogen removal during treatment of the collected fecal matter whereas nobody building pit latrines gets asked that question (OK, I guess it is slowly starting now with fecal sludge management that pathogen removal appears on the agenda but before it was a given that pathogens are not destroyed and nevertheless pit latrines are OK and count towards the SDG targets (Sustainable Development Goals), no further questions asked...).

Regards,
Elisabeth

* Dear SOIL Haiti team, please remember to sign with your name so that I don't have to call you "someone", thanks. :-)
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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