Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

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  • warmin
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Re: Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

Dear Hajo,
Thanks for your thoughts.

I wonder why the water and sewerage companies in Tanzania have been renamed water and sanitation authorities and still refuse to get involved in the management of sludge (never mind form the source). Does this not show how difficult it is to design and implement sector reforms? Reforms can of course start from the bottom but cannot be successful without going national at some point.

In addition, the discourse on water and sanitation is very much concentrating on impact of insufficient access and less on solution. Making this difference is crucial. The discussion on the impact of water and sanitation concentrates mainly on health. But there are many other negative impacts such as poverty, family life, etc. which are at least as important as health for development. They seems to drown in the discussion on water, sanitation and health.

On the other hand, looking at the sector development in the industrialised world, the approach was to solve the water and sanitation challenge by centralised solutions, in the urban setting first (mainly centralised technical solutions but also centralised management systems with decentralised technical solutions at the different stages of development). This approach for solving the challenge is generating very different solutions which are offered by the discourse lead by the public health specialists.

Politicians with a horizon of 4-5 years are of course more interest on sorting out negative impacts in a short time thinking about voters instead of concentrating on infrastructure development over generation. Therefore, the health sector receives priority instead the water and sanitation as infrastructure development sector. In addition, in the water and sanitation sector there is a 2 class system: the connected and the discriminated underserved (mainly the poor). Further infrastructure development does not help the connected one. This is different in other infrastructure sectors like roads where even the minister has to face the pot holes.

Coming back to the different solutions proposed by the health and by the water sector. The result of this difference is usually a legislation for health which propose different distributions of functions for sanitation than the legislation than the water and sanitation act. Evidence shows, that wherever the sector concentrates as much on infrastructure development and its operation as on health and the other impact areas the situation on the ground improves. Approaching the sector development from the infrastructure development BUT also from the managerial site, service provision is outsourced from civil service structure and you also seem to consider this more appropriate.

I agree, that decision maker on all levels have a role to play, but the role they can best play in order to achieve common goals in the interest of the development of society. It is not enough to emphasise: let everyone play a role. The direction of change is usually influenced by successful “pilots” on the ground inducing decision on national level and national up-scaling. But interests often side-line such lessons learned.

In sanitation there will always be a number of ministries involved. It is the nature of sanitation. Therefore, it is important to move the decision making on a higher level than ministries like has been done in Burkina Faso. It was the cabinet which distributed functions, although a bit different than you propose. And surprisingly it seems to lead to convincing results.

Best regards
Roland

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  • hajo
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Re: Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

Dear Roland,

Thanks for your constructive contribution, some of which I agree, others disagree.

Yes, stakeholders have their limits and ‘it is lost time and money to try to change such systematic limits’. In Tanzania, the MoW and the utilities refuse to get involved in ‘dry’ on-site sanitation. They consider themselves responsible only for sewers and ‘maybe’ for emptying septic tanks.

While the Public Health Act assigns responsibilities for emptying on-site sanitation to LGAs (municipalities). And in the case of Moshi, the MMC accepts that they are responsible for it although they don’t do anything due to the lack of funds and resources.

And making a municipality responsible for an on-site service chain (emptying pit latrines) does not mean that they have to do it physically but they just have to contract someone and ensure he does the job.

Can sector development take place without a national concept and standards? Sometimes development has to be driven from the local level. It takes too much time that the national level agrees and develops concepts. Let the local level also implement something that works and the national level then develop concepts on the basis of this proven sample for up-scaling nationwide.

I fully agree with you that urban and rural sanitation require quite different approaches!!!

And I also agree with you that too often a stakeholder with a ‘narrow’ perspective of a sector can influence relevant decisions without having a full picture of the sector. But that is why in Tanzania four (4) ministries are ‘in charge’ of sanitation and with everybody having a say in the sector, the sector also does not move forward.

What can be the solution? I thought to split up the sanitation sector with the following responsible stakeholders:

1 sanitation at schools: Ministry of Education
2 sanitation at health facilities as well as hygiene awareness: Ministry of Health
3 rural/urban household on-site sanitation, solid waste, surface run-off: LGAs
4 wet sanitation (sewer, septic tanks): utilities

This split could possibly encourage the relevant stakeholders to concentrate on their tasks, receive funds for projects and not be distracted by numerous meetings with other stakeholders discussing sanitation matters which do not ‘affect ‘ them.

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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Re: Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

Dear Fredrick,

you describe very well the limits local government structures have. Therefore, I wonder why so many NGOs and donors try to make with their support to the municipality the impossible possible and not design a system which adapts to these limits? All stakeholders have their limits and it is lost time and money to try to change such systemic limits.

It is also interesting to see that after Paris, Accra and Busan agendas the sector still faces donor and NGOs driven long term processes. With the philosophy of decentralization / devolution often in the heads of stakeholders, local and national links are erased. But can sector development take place without a national concept and standards? And an implementation mechanism which leaves the national level out? Can we demand on one side ownership by local and national structures / decision makers and then replace one of them in action?

How long do we still have to work in order to make sector "experts" understand that there must be a separation line between the development of urban and rural water and sanitation development? The realities are different in the two areas because population density creates such different realities.

It seems that there are too many players in the sector coming from different fields (Health, Sociology, Engineering, Psychology, political science, etc., etc.) who often only see a part of the cave and not the horizon, but have a decisive word to say in the discourse.

With best regards

Roland
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

Here (Sindh, Pakistan), the local government is not involved in FSM, or for that matter, the sanitation, in informal areas. Local government works in cities and towns only.

F H Mughal
F H Mughal (Mr.)
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Re: Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

Dear Roland/Elisabeth,

It is/was a pleasure to read your thoughts...and here are my two cents:

1. Human waste and/or solid waste management in the hands of sub-national governments require strong political leadership, the kind that looks beyond 5 years in office. That way, software measures such as SanMark can go in tandem with enforcement of minimal sanitation/hygiene measures. What we see in most towns in Uganda are "Mayors" that can barely mobilize communities to clean their streets - for fear of antagonizing voters. It is the absurd reality.

2. Where there is progress wrt SWM and FSM, donors have largely driven that process. Even then, inadequate sector frameworks put long-term sustainability at risk. Ministry of Education, for example, promotes line-able pits yet there's almost zero resources allocated to maintenance (pit emptying). That would imply that even if there was a sludge treatment/disposal facility in the vicinity, the schools (or health facilities) would struggle with financing FS collection and transport.

3. What we call small towns are in most cases large villages. I am working on a project or two that seek to address FSM challenges in urban settings. Over 95% of the on-site sanitation facilities are not lined, and a multi-pronged approach is being pursued, i.e. put in place FS disposal facilities, while promoting drain-able pits. In the absence of household subsidies, the success of such initiatives would require improvement in household incomes, something beyond the sector's control.

4. Reuse-orientated approaches have not been without challenges. Whether it is solid or human waste by-products, the uptake is not as progressive as practitioners would wish. The average urban dweller's garden provides enough for their subsistence livelihood - without having to "struggle" with soil conditioner.

5. By and large, the developing world is still decades away from large-scale adoption of what seems obvious in waste management. A couple of initiatives such as biogas recovery, composting, etc. can best be described as "work in progress." A combination of socio-economic and cultural barriers are bound to frustrate the idealist sanitation practitioner. Not to forget the fact that roads bring in more votes than waste management.

Best,

Fredrick

PS. Proceeds from this year's MTN-sponsored Kampala Marathon will go towards building biogas-generating sanitation facilities for select public schools in Kampala. The initiative will build on a pilot that involved dragging City Authority officials to Nairobi's Kibera Slum to believe by seeing (GIZ Kenya's Roland and Doreen were instrumental in coordinating the visit).
Fredrick Tumusiime, MSc

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Re: Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

Dear All,
complementing my last posting from yesterday I attach two documents of ONEA (water and sanitation utility) which indicate the involvement and results of ONEA in sanitation (mainly in onsite sanitation)
Best regards
Roland

In French from 2014:

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In English from 1996 with the title "AN OVERVIEW AND PERSPECTIVE ON PROGRESS MADE IN ONEA'S REORGANIZATION EFFORTS"

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  • warmin
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Re: Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

Dear Elisabeth,

Thank you for your replay and hoping that more colleagues will read our exchange.

1. Utility and municipality must be one and municipality must regulate the utility?
I have explained that in some countries it is not the municipality which has ownership of the utility. It can also be one or several ministries or a county. In any case, empirical evidence over more than 3 decades in all condiments habituated by humans has shown that a utility can only be performing if it is at arm’s length away from civil service structure. Whoever neglect this evidence will ask for inefficiencies in the water and sanitation sector which punishes at first the poor. In addition, if municipalities regulate the utility than there will be over hundred regulatory regimes in one country which cannot be in the interest of the people to be served and in the interest of the national state which is accountable (not the municipality) for progressing toward human rights to water and sanitation. Please look beyond Germany for instance to the UK, Netherlands, France, and then of course to our partner countries where access to water and sanitation is progressing. There, the lessons learned have been incorporated in sector reforms which do not consider utility and civil service (on local level) operated by elected politicians as one. This does not mean that they have not to cooperate e.g. in town planning, mobilization of community to identify the places public outlet should be placed, making available public ground for water kiosk and public toilets, etc. Looking for instance at GIZ, owned by ministries in Germany, does that mean that they are one? The principle to follow: Separate professional service provision from civil service structure which is headed by elected politicians but ensure close collaboration.

2. ONEA case not being made public? I have been explaining, there are some publications now available which I will receive soon and I will scan the documents for you. But we will have to obtain permission to make it public over the net. Nevertheless, I will send other ONEA internal documents to your mail box in the meantime.

3. Any up-scaling of sanitation without external financing and without utilities? All bigger sanitation activities are supported in one or another way by external funding except for ONEA in the 90th which financed its sanitation activity through a levy on the water bills. Today UBSUP has already reached a longer lifespan than most of the sanitation projects I have seen. The sanitation activities at ONEA have started in 1991 and are still up-scaled today. Still having doubts about long term? In addition, the sector frameworks (policy, legal, institutional) in Burkina and Kenya are so different that we can conclude that it is very likely that up-scaling sanitation through utilities can be achieved in most of the countries where access is insufficient and urbanization is galloping. In any case it is a more promising option than small scale sanitation projects. Unfortunately, it is hard work and demand a multi-level approach which NGOs, financial cooperation and municipalities cannot do themselves.

4. At first water, than sewerage and then onsite sanitation – discriminating the poor? As the water and sanitation sector in the developing world developed in stages it will do the same in the partner countries. One of the biggest challenges was the financial sustainability and the autonomy of the service providers. Because politician nominated staff of the provider (nepotism) and decided on what they called “social tariffs” which could not cover the average costs (vote catching) the poor were left out. Many countries have understood the problem that denying autonomy for utilities and that a so called “social tariff” which is not covering average costs is un-social. Therefore, first priority: separate utilities from civil service, secondly: allow for cost coverage (with a socially oriented tariff structure) and then when the economic sustainability is achieved start serving the poor more aggressively if possible with water and sanitation at the same time. I have put the order of water, sewerage, onsite sanitation in my last mail as a description of the reality and not of my conviction!

5. Commercial utilities is not “my model” but a reality in the way forward in many countries in the world today and I believe it is the best way forward if the principles are adhered to as empirical evidence documents. Furthermore, ONEA is a good example that onsite sanitation can largely be financed by cross subsidization between water and sanitation. Who else can do it without external funding? I do not know and no one has convincingly with facts explained it to me?

6. As you correctly mentioned, solid waste management in the industrialized world is also contracted out (either to private companies or utilities). Why should service provision for solid waste function according to other principles than the outsourced public services for water and sanitation? Nevertheless, for water and sanitation the outsourcing to utilities is preferred than to private companies for reasons you have already mentioned. But both need to function like the private sector under regulation and can definitely not be one with civil servant administration / municipalities, unless from the perspective of the song “we are the world” (in equality) all together.

Best regards
Roland

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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

Dear Roland,

I read your post with great interest, thank you for sharing your knowledge and viewpoints here! I haven't replied earlier partly because I was pre-occupied with other tasks but partly also because I wanted to give other people the room and time to join into our conversation. Surely it is a topic that interests not just the two of us but others well, so please everyone: do provide your thoughts as well.


(1)

About the first point which relates to distinguising between the political administration and the commercial utilities:

You have described well the different roles and setups for the two. I understand that. However, I still think they should belong together like two pieces of a puzzle. After all, you cannot have a commercial utility without a local government, can you? I am also trying to compare it with the situation in Germany or the Netherlands. They have formed sometimes these "water boards" or "Abwasserzweckverbände" - some institutions that operate like commercial entities but which are usually either owned by or have to follow the regulations of the local council or local authority. We also have this term of "städtische Wasserwerke" in Germany which translates to "city-owned water works". - Do you think some of the models we have for water/wastewater in Germany are transferable to countries like Kenya or is the setup too different?


(2)

It will be good to see more from ONEA in Burkina Faso published in more easily accessible formats (e.g. to be added to the SuSanA library) if it's such a good example. Wondering why not more has been published about it yet.


(3)

Yes, I am of course aware of the great UBSUP project and the wonderful work that Doreen (and the whole team) is doing, also sharing about it here on the forum which is great (forum.susana.org/forum/categories/97-ena...p-wstf-and-giz-kenya).

However, I think the proof is still in the pudding how this will pan out in the longer term. In addition, it received a major injection of funds from an external donor (BMGF) so therefore I am not yet totally convinced that it would be easily replicable elsewhere without that external donor funding. Are you confident that it could be replicated and that it will work even without external donor funding?

(4)
About sanitation and solid waste and what the commercial utilities can take on:
You said:

When a utility in Sub-Sahel Africa succeeds to be viable with a good level of service provision over a long time in water, then it can be regarded as a bit outstanding. If it is the same with sewerage services, then it is very good. Adding now onsite sanitation (in the few cases which are now emerging) then it can be considered as exceptional outstanding. So why should we push for adding solid waste, rural water and sanitation, etc. on top of that? Is it not better that they concentrate on water and effluent / human waste development instead of getting over burdened with other functions? Are in the industrialised world water companies dealing generally with solid waste?


That's exactly the sort of hierarchy that I have a problem with. It basically means that water supply is taken care of. Perhaps also sewerage for those who can afford it. But onsite sanitation is mostly left to "others" to take care of (unless one is fortunate to have donor funding...). And solid waste if left to even "others" to take care of - and is usually not taken care of at all...

With your model of commercial utility, how should onsite sanitation then be taken care of - by someone other than the utility - if there is no external donor funding? And how should solid waste be taken care of? Is this something the municipality must sort out itself because it is too foreign/difficult to a utility to deal with?

Regarding how it's done in industrialised countries:
I think solid waste services are usually contracted out by the German local councils and the contracts re-negotiated on a yearly basis. This also includes waste paper collection which can be quite a profitable business (nevertheless the households have to pay a collection fee).

So solid waste management contracts are negotiated between the local government and a private company - I think that's rather common in Germany (but I am not 100% sure). I guess it is also easier to find such private companies for solid waste because a) they don't need to worry about laying any pipes; they just need trucks and treatment centres and b) because in Germany there is a market for some of the solid waste, like paper and card board. The other waste streams which are collected separately in Germany (glass, tins, green waste for composting, clothes, plastic packaging, special waste) probably are not so profitable (less of a market for the recycled product than for recycled paper).

I don't know the solid waste management industry in Germany well but I suspect a secret to making it work well is to have the separate collection of waste streams, where the German population is usually remarkably willing to cooperate (and we sometimes have long debates about which waste product should go into which bin!). - But that's perhaps a discussion to be had in this category: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/208-solid-waste-management

Regards,
Elisabeth
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  • warmin
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Re: Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

Dear Elisabeth,
Your questions are key when thinking reform in the water and sanitation sector.
Why do we need to distinguish between administration (local or central government) and utilities?

Because both do not have the same level of capacities in different areas and the principle should be: Each one does what he can do best – municipality to issue by-laws, utility (BoD and management) to provide services and ensure asset development. Governments are best placed to develop policies, oversee the sector and to account for sector development but must not interfere in regulation and service provision. An utility does not belong to a ministry or other administration in the sense of owning the assets. The assets are public assets held on behalf of the public by some institutions and in the case of public utilities municipalities can be the owner but should appoint a BoD according to guidelines and hold them accountable once a year in a general assemble. The rest are for professionals of water and sanitation recruited form the labour market and not for civil-servant / public administrator!

That is why they are not the same and there must be a clear separation of public administration and professional service provision. Another reason for the need of a clear separation is to keep politics out of service provision which is the main problem why water and sanitation development is not effective. Such a separation does not mean privatisation! Therefore there is no controversy linked to a clear separation between utility and public administration (regardless of the mode of delivery).

In addition, different institutional set-ups lead to different links. For instance, a national utility like ONEA is owned by some ministries or like in the case of Kenya the utilities are now owned by counties. Therefore it is not always local government / municipalities. Public administration are also not necessarily the best place to regulate utilities although it can be accepted if regulatory instruments are in place which set limits to the owner of the utility.

Concerning ONEA, there is a recent document from French scholars (I believe) “De la faillite à l’excellence HISTOIRE EXTRAORDINAIRE D’UNE TRANSFORMATION” describing the outstanding success of the development of ONEA. This should also be available in English I have heard. I have ask Michel from GIZ in Burkina to advise ONEA to put these documents on the ONEA website. I will follow up on it and let you know. I cannot say how much of sanitation is covered in this document as I have not received a copy.

Concerning commercial utilities being involved in onsite sanitation, I propose that you consult the website of WSTF in Kenya (www.waterfund.go.ke/) and if further details are needed Doreen can help.

Utilities can be considered commercial when they cover costs regardless if cross-subsidisation between products is taking place. There is also cross-subsidisation in water tariffs between consumer groups carried out by commercial utilities. If the regulator allows for a higher tariff because the utility takes on “loss making” products, tariffs for some consumer groups, decentralised sludge treatment for instance, it still remains being a commercial viable utility. The bottom line is: all cost (water, sewer, onsite sanitation) are covered.

When an utility in Sub-Sahel Africa succeeds to be viable with a good level of service provision over a long time in water, then it can be regarded as a bit outstanding. If it is the same with sewerage services, then it is very good. Adding now onsite sanitation (in the few cases which are now emerging) then it can be considered as exceptional outstanding. So why should we push for adding solid waste, rural water and sanitation, etc. on top of that? Is it not better that they concentrate on water and effluent / human waste development instead of getting over burdened with other functions? Are in the industrialised world water companies dealing generally with solid waste?

Best regards
Roland

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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

Dear Roland,

Thanks for picking up on this thread. It seems to actually have a similar topic to the thematic discussion that IRC is running here: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/220-th...ge-around-sanitation (so perhaps we should also put our thoughts there).

I agree in principle with what you wrote. When I said in the thread above "where is the local government?", I wasn't really distinguishing between the municipality and the commercial utility. For me they both belong to the local government (doesn't the local government normally own the commercial utility and sets its working framework by carefully regulating it?). Or would you say it is wrong to put them in the same boat and the commercial utility should rather be seen as something completely separate from the local government?

I am aware of those cases in some cities where the commercial utility was totally outsourced and privatized, like with Veolia Water or with some Waste Collection services (often companies from France, it seems). I suppose in that case, the organizational separation is very clear. (mind you this has its own controversies assoicated with it, like we discussed here on the forum:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/142-go...s-bad-for-the-sector)

Coming back to the commercial utilities in sub-Saharan Africa, you have mentioned here the shining example of ONEA in Burkina Faso:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/142-go...g-intervention-areas

However, I was missing to see some good reports or presentations about their case - is there something available on someone's website that you could point us towards? Or is the problem that it's only available in French?

Apart from Burkina Faso and perhaps Senegal (ONAS), are you aware of other good examples are there for commercial utilities getting serious about non-sewer based sanitation systems serving the urban poor (if sewers are not an option), or in peri-urban or rural situations? (Christoph had started a list which he linked to in the post just above yours, although those are more just "projects", often NGO-led like with SOIL in Haiti)

I was under the impression that the commercial utilities usually only make a profit out of selling piped water and, perhaps, sewer services. But as soon as you go beyond piped systems in sanitation, then they have a problem and need to cross-subsidize it from their water business which speaks against being "commercial" about it all?

And how about solid waste management? Do ONEA and ONAS also deal with solid waste? It seems to me that solid waste management is often left with the municipality (and not with the commercialised utility) as it's harder to make it profitable compared to selling water.

If you, or anyone else has an interest in solid waste management, we could also start a new thread about this aspect here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/208-solid-waste-management

Kind regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • warmin
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Re: Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

Dear Elisabeth,
Is it really the job of local government to carry out the function of providing sanitation services? Will they ever be professional enough to do so and to raise enough money for investments? Has the transfer of water supply from local government departments to commercial utilities under regulation not demonstrated that administration (on national and local level alike) are not the best place to offer such services?
With best regards
Roland

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Re: Where is the local government involvement in faecal sludge management and sanitation for the urban poor?

Maybe some of the projects listed (here) already advanced with local governments? Could the people comment their experiences?.

Christoph
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