Topic 1: FSM beyond awareness and tools

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  • sudheer
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Re: Topic 1: FSM beyond awareness and tools

I am an environmental engineer and researcher who has spent a major portion of his masters course of issues of sanitation and excreta management.

I believe that traditional methods are fine but we have to recognise that there is no single solution to problems of sanitation and faecal sludge management. The applicability of solutions depends on a number of factors. We do need a change in our approach according to the problem.
Changing the perception of toilets as resource recycling units and human excreta as something of value can bring about an improvement in sanitation practices in India.

I would like to give an example to highlight the need for a situation and site-based approach. It has been found that septic tanks may be problematic (with respect to groundwater contamination) on sandy soils with high water tables and high clay content soils which do not allow infiltration.
Hence, anaerobic systems alone cannot be implemented in such situations as stand-alone solutions due to their poor nutrient removal capabilities. Designing human waste management systems in such areas needs a different approach that may involve alternative on-site systems.
A site and culture specific solution has to applied.

Sudheer Salana,
Scientist(Fellow)
NEERI,
Mumbai

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  • vyasad
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Re: Topic 1: FSM beyond awareness and tools

The way Indian & other South Asian urban population in big cities & metros is increasing is one of the biggest challenge for regulatory agencies & service providers working for safe sanitation. The pit toilets & septic tanks, designed & used for a particular number of users now catering a very high number of users. Irony is that than these are not cleaned, desludged & emptied for years, in many cases for 5-10 years. This in turn making the surrounding areas sources of high contamination due to effluent/scum percolating , leading to high increase of disease rates, specifically among small children & infants due to contamination of water bodies, streams & soil the play ground of urban poor children. In absence of retrofitting of septic tanks & pit toilets, the areas become pathetic not inviting the interest of colonizers, corporators & remain unprofitable for urban development partners. Hence in my opinion if FSM to be placed in the wider local development , practically it has to be linked with mortality /morbidity rates of infants/children , to be linked with economic stability of urban poor, the whole process of collecting, transporting & dumping FS at a safer place is to be made incentive wise. Importantly the pit toilets & septic tanks to be linked with retrofitting programs for ULBs/MCs. Once retrofitting done than the places are of higher commercial value ,than politicians & local leaders will all be attracted. It is a kind of clever way of putting FSM in mainstream..
Anil Dutt Vyas
WASH & Urban Specialist
Head Civil Engg. Department,
Manipal University Jaipur, India
+91 141 3999 100 ext 386 (O), +91 94140 65545 (M)
www.jaipur.manipal.edu/
www.onfrontiers.com/blog/water-in-india-...ties-for-investment/

"Neither peace, development nor human rights can flourish in an atmosphere of corruption.” Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general, United Nations.

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  • Antoinette
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Re: Topic 1: FSM beyond awareness and tools

Dear Ashok K. Jain,

Thank you for your post on the use and applicability of pit latrines. For those who did not or were unable to open the attachment: the discussion was around the use of pit latrines in India considering that a basic premise of those latrines is that liquid can infiltrate in the soil without any health hazard. Mr. Ashok argued that this premise is not valid case for the majority of situations in India because:
- a large part of the area consists of black cotton soils (vertisols) which have a very low infiltration rate when wet
- areas with soils with higher infiltration rates may have high ground water tables
- often there might not be space to keep recommended distances from water points, even in rural areas
(Please do correct me if my summary is wrong).

For me the bottom line is that indiscriminate or "blind" use of a technology option is never a good idea. We need to consider whether the particular technology fits for the context. Another point raised here is that in FSM discussions we have not yet cracked that containment question. This includes, in urban contexts, the use of septic tanks, who aren't actually septic tanks by design and the absence of leach fields.

It seems that in the sanitation sector we've been giving a lot of attention to reducing open defecation (a good user interface), and now discussion emptying, transport and treatment/re-use. Yet the problem of safe containment, and getting house owners to upgrade that containment, remains one of the huge elephants in the room...

best,
Ant.
Antoinette Kome
Global Sector Coordinator WASH

SNV Netherlands Development Organisation

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  • ASHA
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Re: Topic 1: FSM beyond awareness and tools

Thank you for your inputs. We have been working in SBM project in Odisha and facing the same problem especially in flood zone. We all should look into this matter and I appreciate the solution you provided for leach pit.

Ashok wrote: I am not a sanitation person but I am an engineer and can think. India is a very large country varying in topography, soil culture, under ground water tables and sub surface water levels. Quoting from the Mr Magdalena Bauer's mail

"Additionally, pit toilets with a designed life of 7-8 years need regular emptying and these are being built at a fast pace under SBM. Thus, the problem of FSM will only grow in the future necessitating creative and new solutions."

I am sure that in the long run, the pits will contaminate the sub surface water at many places. More over, the space for proper construction of pit toilets would never be available in rural environment in India.

I am attaching a write up on the subject.

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  • sanjayg111
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Re: Topic 1: FSM beyond awareness and tools

Thanks for initiating such an important issue. Infact the Nirmal Bharat Scheme is going to make the issue more challenging for FSM with more toilets but no FSM infrastructure. Some of the key quality information missing for having any meaningful intervention either in the area of technology selection or private sector participation are

1. There are no quality data available on FS quantity and quality - values need to be used to define process specifications
2. Municipalities largely still think that if it is not connected with Sewer, its not their responsibility to manage it. So even in Cities like Delhi and Bangaluru, non sewer toilets FS is filled in suction tanks and dropped at any place, even in seas and other water bodies to make it disappear
3. Private sector is available in collection but not treatment as people or local government does not want to provide infrastructure and other institutional support for treating FS.
4. There are no punitive measures for such open dumping of FS and also like waste - Not in My Backyard Syndrome - once out of the house toilet, residents are not bothered what happens with it.
5. We need to take up small city level 100% FSM to encourage learning and replicating the practices. Currently not even a single town/city in India has 100% FSM.
6. If any meaningful intervention has to be upscaled, it has to be at full city/town level to create encouraging opportunities for upscaling and replication. Atleast each state should have a pilot where the entire city's FG is managed irrespective of whether it is connected with sewers or not.
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  • Ashok
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Re: Topic 1: FSM beyond awareness and tools

I am not a sanitation person but I am an engineer and can think. India is a very large country varying in topography, soil culture, under ground water tables and sub surface water levels. Quoting from the Mr Magdalena Bauer's mail

"Additionally, pit toilets with a designed life of 7-8 years need regular emptying and these are being built at a fast pace under SBM. Thus, the problem of FSM will only grow in the future necessitating creative and new solutions."

I am sure that in the long run, the pits will contaminate the sub surface water at many places. More over, the space for proper construction of pit toilets would never be available in rural environment in India.

I am attaching a write up on the subject.
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  • Antoinette
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Topic 1: FSM beyond awareness and tools

Dear colleagues,

In less than 2 months, the fourth Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) conference will be held. This time in Chennai in India. People working on FSM will come from all over the world. An opportunity for us not only to learn about FSM in India, but also to reflect on progress in FSM in general.
Last December, I had the opportunity to facilitate a BMGF learning event for South Asian Partners in Dakar, with many colleagues from India. As part of that learning event, we ran a preparatory Dgroup discussion: “Stock-taking of FSM progress” (see summary attached), in which we discussed progress in FSM in general, urban sanitation and FSM planning, as well as urban sanitation and FSM finance. All these topics will also come up in the next blocks of this SuSanA discussion. The SuSanA team asked me to share reflections from the first part of that discussion. I will leave it to the Indian colleagues to share their experiences (please!), and share here some of the more general reflections.

The reflection was that awareness on FSM has increased hugely, but it’s still common that people see FSM as a gap-filling measure, not one of the mainstream options to address urban sanitation. Another reflection was that FSM should be understood as management of the entire sanitation chain, from user interface to safe disposal/ re-use, and not only as the construction of a faecal sludge treatment plant. More attention to setting up viable emptying and transport models, as well as attention to the quality of on-site facilities and addressing the liquid part is urgent.

Of course, one of the biggest breakthroughs globally is that the SDG target 6.3 refers to reduction of pollution, eliminating untreated wastewater, promoting recycling & safe reuse. In South Asia, national government have started to incorporate FSM in policies and frameworks. For example, the Institutional and Regulatory Framework (IRF) for FSM in Bangladesh, in India the National Strategy for Water Supply and Sanitation (2014), Manual Scavengers Act in 2013. While this is all promising, the reflection was that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

And there are some problems with that eating. First of all, the priority given to FSM by politicians and the general public is still low. For many, a healthy urban living environment starts with solid waste management, and human waste is mostly seen as an invisible side-issue. Water, sanitation, pollution are mentioned in the New Urban Agenda, but among many many other things.

Secondly, we need more application of tools (not just “testing”) and critical thinking about that application. Mere toolification is not sufficient for a problem of this complexity and scope. During the learning event in Dakar, we made a tool matrix. Mapping the tools that we know against the sanitation value chain on one axis and the project cycle steps on the other axis. We then asked people to mark whether they were aware of the tools and whether they had experience in using it. It became clear that:
• Many tools aim to address the entire sanitation value chain for all consumer segments…
• Many tools remain at diagnostic level, we seem to lack rules of thumb for solutions
• Most of the participants were aware of tools, but had not applied them.

Another complexity in eating the pudding might be that we are divided between seeing FSM as a completely new field, or as part of the existing field urban sanitation. Do we need FSM specific discussions, learning groups, toolboxes, events, experts and so on? Isn’t attention to non-sewered sanitation simply part of good practice in urban sanitation? Someone cautioned against re-inventing the wheel in FSM and the need to pay attention to for example tools outside of FSM that can also be applied. To me that question is very similar to the discussion we have around gender mainstreaming: of course it’s part of good practice to integrate it, but somehow it didn’t and still doesn’t happen!

So, I would like to challenge you with 3 questions to kick-off this SuSanA FSM4 discussion:
1. What should be done to place FSM in the wider local development agenda, without negating the importance of other issues?
2. What’s a clever way to move forward on best practices, tools, development of rules of thumb?
3. How do we mainstream FSM in urban development without losing expertise and focus?

This topic runs from Tuesday 10th till Monday 16th Of January. Of course, we also welcome all your other views on progress in FSM as well.

Looking forward to hear from you!

Best,
Ant.
Antoinette Kome
Global Sector Coordinator WASH

SNV Netherlands Development Organisation
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