City level sustainable full cost recovery - How to ensure finances for services for the entire city and entire sanitation chain?

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  • Katrin
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Re: Discussion Summary Now Available

Dear all,

Thank you for contributing to our topic and raising so many important issues with regard to city level sustainable cost recovery.

The summary is now available here .

Please note that there will also be a synthesis of entire discussion on urban sanitation finance, available on the forum by mid-August. Stay tuned!

Thank you,
Katrin
Dr. Katrin Dauenhauer
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  • kevintayler
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Re: City level sustainable full cost recovery - How to ensure finances for services for the entire city and entire sanitation chain?

Thanks to Dave Robbins for his comprehensive response to the queries in my earlier post. As he says, Dumaguete is a fascinating case study and I have been following it from a distance for some time.

I will attempt to add some value to his comments, based partly on my own experience in Indonesia over the last few years.

The assumed design loading of 71 cubic metres per day, together with the 3 cu.m truck capacity and assumed 80% availability result in an assumed number of loads delivered per day per truck of just over 4. Our analysis of a generally well managed system in Palu,Sulawesi, showed that their trucks were making 3 trips per day and it seemed that with the added efficiency that would be achieved through working to a scheduled program, this figure could well be increased to 4 per day. So, it seems that the Philippines and Indonesian investigations are giving similar truck utilization figures.

The 5 year emptying cycle planned for Dumaguete seems more realistic than the 2 year emptying cycle that was attempted in Malaysia before changes in the law led to the abandoning of scheduled emptying.

The success of the Dumaguete lagoons in achieving organic load removal suggests to me that there will rarely be a need to go to more complex and energy-dependent technologies such as the sequencing batch reactor treatment installed in Baliwag. Dave's post points to one of the main problems with lagoons/ponds, that of sludge build up. Sludge builds up over time and results in the requirement for major desludging exercises at infrequent intervals - a difficult combination for operators. Our work last year in Indonesia suggested that providing solids-liquid separation ahead of pond/lagoon treatment for liquid and drying bed treatment for sludge makes a lot of sense. It reduces the organic and solids load on the ponds, hence reducing both the required size of ponds and the rate of sludge build up - thus reducing (but not eliminating) the need for pond desludging. But what technology should be used for solids - liquid separation? Many Indonesian plants have Imhoff tanks but these have proved difficult to desludge and are sometimes by-passed. One option would be to use hopper-bottomed sedimentation tanks, of the type once used for rural and small town wastewater treatment plants in the UK. These have no moving parts, should be suitable for the relatively small flows passing through septage treatment plants and rely on regular desludging using hydrostatic pressure - so avoiding the need to remove relatively large volumes of partly consolidated sludge at relatively infrequent intervals. I think that these would work for the digested sludge taken from tanks and pits in East Asia, which should have reasonably good settling characteristics.

One point on the institutional arrangements for Dumaguete is that separate organizations are responsible for septage collection/transport and treatment. Presumably, there is an agreement as to the amount paid to the municipality for operating the treatment plant and this amount covers the operational costs. Another point regarding collection/transport is that there do not appear to be any private sector operators working independently of the official program.

Finally, to the interesting question of scheduled emptying. Dave's analysis of the probable reasons for the falling away from the original commitment to scheduled emptying is persuasive but, as he says, a detailed analysis of the reasons for the change should provide useful input to planning for future programs. One point is that people are apparently paying for a scheduled emptying service but not getting it - presumably they don't complain about this because (a) the increase in tariff was not so great and (b)they are not experiencing problems with their pits/tanks, at least for the moment. One question here is whether service providers will always tend to fall back to the easier on-call option where there is not strong demand for scheduled desludging. If so, there will be implications for strategies for introducing scheduled desludging, presumably with a greater emphasis on creating demand. An easy point to make in theory but probably much more difficult to achieve in practice.

I suspect that I have moved away from the main point of this topic to a rather specialized sub-topic. My apologies for this but I am finding this discussion really useful.
Kevin Tayler
Independent water and sanitation consultant
Horsham
UK
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  • dmrobbins10
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Re: City level sustainable full cost recovery - How to ensure finances for services for the entire city and entire sanitation chain?

I am preparing this post in an attempt to answer some of the questions that have been posted about the Dumaguete City Septage Management Program. The following opinions and conclusions are my own, so please accept them as such.

The Dumaguete City Septage Management Program (DCSMP) is a fascinating case study which continues to provide direction, inspiration and lessons learned for those municipalities and cities in the Philippines and beyond that are interested in setting up their own programs. I reached back into my archives and pulled up what I believe to be the last iteration (if not the last one, at least it is close) of the basis for program design, which I will share with you now:

Basis for design of the program (prepared sometime around 2008):

- Number of houses to be served: 22,000
- Number of commercial and institutional buildings: 3,500
- Estimate of the percentage of homes that will participate in the program (compliance target): 70%
- % of homes with septic tanks: 75%
- % of homes where septic tanks are desludgable: 75%
- Average size of residential septic tank: 6 cubic meters (assumed – average sized turned out to be somewhat smaller)
- Average size of commercial / institutional septic tanks: 10 cubic meters
- Desludging frequency: every 5 years
- Number of working days per week 5
- Tariff: will be attached to the water bill and charged 2 pesos (about 5 US cents) per cubic meter of water consumed. Average water consumption residential: 24 cubic meters/month. Commercial consumption: 20 cubic meters per month.

This data was plugged into the “Septage Management Toolkit” (a product of USAID’s Philippine Sanitation Alliance project) which predicted the following:

- 7 trucks would be needed at 3 cubic meter volumetric capacity each considering a trucking efficiency rate of 80%;
- The facility design flow is 71 cubic meters per day (actual facility was sized at 80 cubic meters per day);
- Annual revenue from the program would be P 14.3 million;
- Annual operating expenses including debt service on trucks and plant would be P 11.9 million;
- That the program would achieve full cost recovery (CAPEX and OPEX) in about 8 years after which there would be a surplus of P 8 million, which the program operators (City Water District and City Government) could use to pay back the initial investment early. They apparently did, as last year when I was in Dumaguete, the mayor told us that the program achieved full cost recovery in the first 5 years.

So that is the math. Pretty straight forward and surprisingly accurate as far as projections go. Now 8 years on from the time of these estimates, we can look back and see how they really did. Was the program a success? What lessons can we learn?

Technology. The technology used for the treatment system (waste stabilization lagoons and constructed wetlands) appear to be working well, although somewhat under-loaded. There are some operational issues such as sludge accumulation in some of the cells, but overall, the system is functioning, and there are fish living in the indicator pond. Not bad considering the strength of the incoming waste.

Institutional arrangements: the cooperation between the city government, responsible for the operations of the treatment facility, and the Water District, responsible for the collection program appears to be intact, although it is difficult to know what is going on behind the scenes. Trucks go out every day and collect septage and bring it to the plant. The trucks are maintained, workers are employed, and sludge is processed. There is a bit of an over accumulation of biosolids at the site, and the quality of the biosolids indicates some remaining fecal contamination, so direct use on food crops is not feasible, but the city continues to use the biosolids for its greening program.

Scheduled desluding. The program was originally intended for scheduled desluding, where the trucks move through the community one block at a time on a rotating 5 year cycle. Scheduled desludging requires a number of supporting activities and perhaps this is where the program has broken down a bit. This is where I think there are the greatest opportunities for lessons learned. The program was originally developed to include these supporting activities to ensure the long term sustainability of the scheduled desludging program. At the heart of this effort was a robust and on-going city-wide promotions program to raise awareness of the issues and raise the willingness to pay for desludging services. Complimentary to the promotions campaign was a series of activities designed around the actual desludging activity to increase participation:

- A few days before the truck is scheduled in the neighborhood, city workers pass out door hangers advising people when the septage truck will be in the neighborhood and to be ready. Also included are instructions on how to prepare and who to contact if they need help in opening their tank;
- The day before the desludging event, a sound truck goes through the neighborhood reminding people of the activity and asking people not to park on the street;
- The day of the service, the barangay captain (community leader) coordinates the on-site activities including directing traffic away from the desludging activities;
- After the desluding, the sanitary inspector inspects the tank, advises homeowners of any deficiencies and completes the paperwork for the database.

That was how it was supposed to happen and there is some evidence that this was the procedure at least in the beginning. These activities were modeled after Marikina City’s septage management program which was implemented by Manila Water, and which reportedly achieved a 95% compliance rate! Initially in Dumaguete, there were relatively high rates of compliance but apparently, this fell off in recent years. The reason is possibly due to a failure to keep up the promotions campaign, and a breakdown in the choreographed activities described above, as resources may have been pulled in different directions resulting in lower and lower compliance rates to the point that it was more practical to shift the business model to call for service rather than scheduled desludging. Much of this is conjecture on my part having pieced together different stories from different actors. The real reasons, which we may never know, are interesting to speculate upon. Perhaps the mayor or someone more “in the know” than I will read this and weigh in to shed more light on my speculations, but more importantly, what are the lessons learned and how can we take those lessons forward to improve programs?

In the municipality of Palo, in the province of Leyte in the central Philippines, Oxfam is working with the municipal government to develop a septage management program that builds upon the body of knowledge and lessons learned from the DCSMP and other more recent programs. For Palo, a local ordinance is being prepared that requires that the municipality:

- Conducts scheduled desludging programs and augments this with call-for-service for those that require interim service;
- Implements some of the incentives to encourage people to comply when the truck is in the neighborhood (see my previous post on this subject earlier on in this string);
- Hire a dedicated sanitary inspector for the septage management program (dedicated meaning that they can’t be diverted to other activities) to perform compliance inspections; and
- Conducts on-going promotions campaigns utilizing a multi-media approach for the life of the program.

I guess time will tell if these measures are sufficient to keep the municipality on track. But back on the topic of Dumaguete City, there is some good news to report. Apparently, there is an effort underway to encourage the program operators to try the scheduled desludging again. Perhaps this was due to increased scrutiny generated by the USAID study tour and others. Whatever the reason, I applaud this effort which will continue to make the DCWMP a model for continuing study for the next 10 years and beyond.
David M. Robbins
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  • kevintayler
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Re: City level sustainable full cost recovery - How to ensure finances for services for the entire city and entire sanitation chain?

Dear all

This is a very interesting topic - it raises lots of questions. I am afraid that I am going to raise some more rather than providing answers.

My first question concerns the Dumaguatte initiative. Dave Robbins says that his friends there are slipping back into call for service rather than scheduled emptying. Dumaguette has frequently been cited as a model so it would be really interesting to hear more about the way in which this happens and the causes for the 'slipping back'. What lessons can be learnt from the experience? In particular, does slipping back mean that the authorities have formally abandoned scheduled emptying or is the situation that they are attempting to implement it but failing? Whichever is the case, what were the factors that led to the falling away from the effort to empty all pits according to a schedule? Is scheduled emptying continuing in some places and not others? Given its pioneering status, a review of the Dumaguette experience would be really useful in providing information for future planning in other towns and cities.

Dave also says that the USAID team visited the 'highly mechanized' private sector-run Baliwag scheme. It would be interesting to know how this system is working. According to the information that is available on the internet, treatment includes maceration, cationic polymer injection, a sequencing batch reactor (SBR) and chlorination. This is expensive to both construct and operate and will require both staff with relevant operating skills and regular monitoring of wastewater characteristics through the plant to ensure that the system is operating as intended. SBRs are also dependent on a reliable electricity supply.

Turning to some of the points that Antoinette made. I would like to focus first on her statement that scheduled emptying is more efficient and cost effective than emptying on demand. I agree that, where pits and tanks are requiring regular emptying, scheduled emptying should allow more efficient deployment of available tankers. However, I have questions about costs and resources. These can be illustrated by reference to the Dumaguette and Baliwag initiatives. The population of Baliwag is around 160,000, according to an article on the internet, so it would seem reasonable to assume that there are around 50,000 pits and tanks to be emptied. At the planned emptying frequency of once every five years, this will require that about 10,000 pits are emptied each year. This is coincidentally, the same target aimed for in Dumaguette. Assuming that one tanker can empty three tanks/pits per day (assumed for Baliwag and a reasonable figure based on the experience in Palu in Indonesia) and that tankers operate 250 days per year, each tanker can empty around 750 pits per year. So, emptying 10,000 pits per year would require about 13 tankers. I think that Dumaguette has six but I am open to correction on this. Most municipalities of this size in Indonesia have two tankers at most and there might be 5 or 6 private sector operators, operating independently. So, scheduled emptying might allow more efficient use of tankers but it will definitely need a large increase in the number of tankers deployed. It will need a corresponding increase in the institutional resources required to ensure that costs are recovered and that the tankers are indeed deployed efficiently. The important question here is how the resources required to make this step change in institutional and physical resources is to be made. It would be good to have some discussion on this. I have already argued that there is a case for introducing scheduled emptying only in areas in which there is already a clear demand for regular pit/tank emptying services. One specific point here is that when we consider affordability, we need to consider affordability to service providers as well as service users - bearing in mind Eric Dudley's useful advice that when looking at a technology or system, we should ask ourselves the question 'how might it go wrong?'.

One specific point on payment is that it seems that demand for scheduled emptying dropped even where the water bill had been increased to cover the cost of scheduled emptying. One possible reason for this is that the 10% increase is relatively small and people just see it as part of a regularly increased water bill anyway. The other explanation, stemming from what has been said in my last paragraph, is that the problem is at least partly on the supply side. Thoughts on this from those who know the Philippines initiatives would be useful.

One last question on building codes. What should building codes say about acceptable options for retaining sludge from on-site sanitation facilities?. In the Philippines and Indonesia, the argument seems to be that leach-pits are unacceptable and should be replaced by 2 or 3 compartment septic tanks. Governments, international agencies and NGOs promote leach-pit disposal in South Asia and pit latrines in Africa. (The old TAG guidelines documents on sanitation describe leach-pit and pit latrine options) In Europe and the US, leach pits are not allowed for the disposal of black water. These discrepancies raise the obvious questions - what should we be promoting and why?

Incidentally, a lot of the research in the US and elsewhere showed that single compartment tanks perform as well as double compartment tanks - the important factor is the geometry. See work at the University of Wisconsin among others.

One last point on the IWK experience in Malaysia. The BMGF report on Malaysia, produced by the ERE Consulting Group and IWK, refers to the drop in the number of tanks/pit emptied once scheduled emptying was abandoned. The change came in 2008 as a result of the Water Industry Service Act, which seems to have been based on the assumed need to open the emptying sector up to competition. The report shows that one of the results of the move from scheduled to on-demand emptying was that smaller service providers struggled to make their services financially viable - an important finding that is backed up by experience in some towns in Indonesia. What are the implications and do we need to rethink our ideas about competition in the light of this experience? Thoughts on this would be very useful.

Those are the main points that strike me. It would be really good if we can get some further thoughts in relation to each of them with the aim of testing general principles and assessing how they may need to be modified to take account of what happens in the field when they are applied.
Kevin Tayler
Independent water and sanitation consultant
Horsham
UK

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  • micah
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Re: City level sustainable full cost recovery - How to ensure finances for services for the entire city and entire sanitation chain?

Dear all,

Allow me to share how things are running in Uganda. First, over 94% households in Uganda use onsite sanitation and many times, filled up latrines are buried! It's until very recently that emptying technologies are coming into play. These are done by private entities as the local government through kcca (Kampala capital city authority) doesn't have the resources nor the machinery nor the human capital to be fronted by vast demand which hasn't been helped by greater demand coming from entrepreneurs with cesspools heading to south sudan which has no existing sewerage system. A major supplier of cesspools in Kampala quotes about $50,000 for a 10,000 litre truck. This would require about 1650 emptying if each household pays an average of $30 per emptying, to break even!

The authority is already under capacitated to even effectively handle publicly owned institutions quoting a highly placed person in the sanitation department.

I have seen, first hand, the situation in Uganda and South Sudan. South Sudan being worked with pits filling up almost every week for institutions andbthks requires a weekly emptying budget! Privately managed water and sanitation corporations are starting to crop and this liberalizing of the sector eg in Rwanda is bringing efficient service to the people.

I have managed a pit emptying business personally as you may see in twitter @gulprenuer and after a while of this, I came to a conclusion that a well organized private entity with a call centre established would handle emptying more efficiently while still sanitation as a whole requires urgent disruption by private sector with government regulation, of course.

Best

Mordecai
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  • KumiAbeysuriya
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Re: City level sustainable full cost recovery - How to ensure finances for services for the entire city and entire sanitation chain?

Dear all,

Thank you all for your interesting and valuable contributions to this discussion on city level sanitation financing. In closing off the formal discussion of this topic, we leave you with some ‘food for thought’ as well as respond to some remaining issues.

In discussing city level sanitation financing, we have been concerned with the ‘balancing’ of expenditure (costs) and revenues (finance). An absolute requirement that no one would dispute is that: in order for services to be provided over the long term, revenues must cover costs over the lifecycle of the service.

HOW revenues and costs should be balanced, on the other hand, is a subject of much debate… Should user payments (‘tariffs’) cover the full cost? Should we use public finance (‘taxes’)? If so, should public finance fund only capital investment, or O&M too? Should we rely on donors (local or international ‘transfers’), and if so, how much? And so on.
And the answers depend on the accepted ‘rules’ of the day that we construct. We could question how absolute these rules need to be. If we allow ourselves not to be constrained by such ‘rules’ applied to every situation, will that release us to find more creative ways of balancing revenues and costs as suited to each particular situation?

Sustainable full cost recovery: is it such a new and radical idea?
I would argue ‘no’: public hospitals and schools are routinely financed through combinations of tariffs, taxes and transfers (the 3Ts) in most places, even in industrialised countries (where ‘transfers’ might relate to various individual/corporate endowments and community fund raising efforts, for example). Public finance may cover capital expenditure as well as operating costs (e.g. salaries) in these sectors, partially or fully. Is the lack of debate here due to the recognition that hospitals and schools provide enormous public benefits (even while the private benefits are significant), and that these services are too costly to be financed through affordable and equitable user fees/tariffs? Can we say the same about sanitation?!

What is the significance of the 4th T?
SNV and ISF coined the term ‘trade’ (as another ‘T’ word) to refer to potential revenues from the sale of products derived from sanitation waste, so we describe sustainable full cost recovery for sanitation as making use of 4Ts: revenue streams from tariffs, taxes, transfers and trade (see our collaborative Learning Paper, the pre-reading for this topic). Reference to the 4Ts is intended to serve as a prompt for sanitation planners to seek to design their systems for revenues from resource recovery.

What is the true potential for this revenue stream? Sowmya and Hanns-André (posts #14049, #14050) proposed that recovering resources from the sanitation waste stream could turn sanitation from a ‘cost centre’ to a ‘profit centre’. Jonathan and Kevin observed that in practice, this raises only a small amount of revenue. At the same time, it is well known that critical mineral sources of nutrients for agriculture are being rapidly depleted (for example, see phosphorusfutures.net/) and the sanitation waste stream offers a significant alternative source of nutrients. So the question may not be whether human waste needs to be recycled, but when. Can the current impediments be overcome through stronger efforts in stimulating markets, creating supportive regulations and institutions, re-designing infrastructures for efficient resource capture, and reshaping cultural meanings for use of these products? Can we ‘future-proof’ investments in new sanitation systems by designing them for recycling resources in preparation for a resource-constrained future?

Thank you, Delphin, for sharing APROSAN’s situation that illustrates many of the challenges of accessing repayable finance: the need to convince the bank that there will be reliable revenue streams to pay back the loan (and making sure there is enough demand for the products so the revenue stream is reliable). Are there any other Ts that Delphin could possibly recruit?

And thank you Mughal, for your question that emphasises the intertwined nature of the factors that can confound the possibility of city sanitation services – in the case of Sindh, the vicious cycle of services becoming dysfunctional due to lack of spending in O&M, the revenue stream from tariffs weakened as people do not experience a functional service that is worth paying for, with corruption placing everything under a demotivating cloud of distrust…

This thematic discussion has sought to focus on the ‘financing’ aspect of the multifaceted challenge of enabling long term sanitation services. Thank you again for your participation in the discussion.

Kind regards,
Kumi
Dr. Kumi Abeysuriya
Independent Consultant

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  • Antoinette
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Re: City level sustainable full cost recovery - How to ensure finances for services for the entire city and entire sanitation chain?

Dear all,

This is a great discussion with so many contributions and different inputs. I do think though that the scenario isn’t as gloomy, that it’s all unaffordable and corrupt, or at least, even if it’s gloomy we should continue to make the effort!

First of all, I agree with Jonathan that standards and aspirations are often unrealistically high, and that gradual steps of improvement should be considered progress. It is however, then up to us, not to present such gradual steps of improvement as the ultimate goal…

Of course in urban sanitation, the sanitation value chain is a challenge at every single part of the chain. While people may have toilets (“user interface”), in most countries septic tanks are not really septic tanks. Most containment is open at the bottom, has conveniently low outlet pipes (in hilly areas) or a tiny holding tank with a pipe directly to the river/drain (in flat lands) and anything else that masons can think of to avoid the tank/pit filling up. In fact, I’ve heard users in more than one country claim that their “septic tank” was excellent because “it never fills up”. Effluent management is rarely considered and often technically challenging, because there is no space or groundwater tables are too high. Kumi rightly points out that emptying and safe disposal alone, will not solve the pollution by the liquid part.

The state of “septic tanks” should not surprise us. What we found in our programme in Kalianda (Indonesia), is similar to findings in our programme Kushtia (Bangladesh). I’m writing this from the Pyrenees in the South of France, and this village only got sewer a few years back, and before that –people say- there were many “irregular septic tanks”. In our programme areas, we often find that the responsibility for inspection of septic tanks is unclear and a low priority. Sometimes building codes are so perfect that they become unattainable and thereby an excuse for non-compliance. All in all, good technical and business solutions for upgrading of on-site facilities is a hugely important area of work and still a big puzzle.

In the context of where we work, I think that scheduled desludging is highly preferred over on-demand desludging. Not only it allows for a more efficient and cost effective organisation of emptying, but also avoids the wrong incentives for users and emptiers. Households (users) tend to empty their pit/tank when it is an emergency for them. That means, when it overflows, backs up into the house or the stench is unbearable. On demand emptying is in fact nearly always emergency emptying and that’s problematic for two reasons. Firstly, even if people would have a septic tank, this septic tanks would have been providing any pre-treatment for a while for being too full. Secondly, as it is emergency emptying, people seek a provider who is available, caring less about safety or final disposal and paying at the door (an incentive for unsafe disposal as Dave wrote).

People tend to postpone emptying and that’s not only about the money. IWK in Malaysia has seen their emptying rate decline after moving from scheduled to on demand emptying. Also in Dumaguete we saw that the demand for the emptying service dropped, even though it had already been paid for inside the water bill!

I think that in the sanitation sector, we give up way to fast and conclude way too easily that affordability is the main limitation. This closes a lot of doors. As Dave wrote, we’ve been calculating the costs of regular desludging (including transport and treatment works) and we are finding that actually a monthly payment would not be that high- around 1 USD per month per household in a town of 5,000-25,000 hhs. Of course this is not yet 100% safe, because the quality of on-site facilities is still an issue (see my comments on upgrading above). Also, it clearly depends on the technology choice. I don’t know the context in Sindh at all, but it strikes me, Mughal you say it’s a rural area, yet you are talking about sewer and sewer treatment works? I think that very often it is possible to find technical and business solutions where the cost is affordable for the majority of the population, but we need to do much more effort in supporting an informed choice process for local governments (in planning like Jonathan wrote), that addresses technical and financial options. Like in rural sanitation and urban water supply, such business models should also include support options for the most vulnerable groups (cross-subsidy or other). This is a more constructive perspective than giving up on affordability from the start. There’s an issue of willingness to charge and the fact that urban sanitation services requires an upfront investment. Hence this discussion.

I agree with Dave on many points regarding creating the right incentives, but I think that the urban sanitation sector ultimately requires a combination of stick and carrot. Local governments should work on smart enforcement and incentives for users and service providers, and of course national governments should use stick and carrot to motivate local governments to make progress on sanitation. I disagree with Micah from Kampala that urban sanitation can be addressed by private sector alone. I’m not dismissing all the problems of corruption, lack of transparency etc., but the nature of the sector requires services for all and bringing everybody into compliance. The challenge is of course, like Kevin said, that in many countries local government have little room for manoeuvre to make progress on urban sanitation. They are not allowed to make decisions on tariffs or taxes nor have the freedom to borrow money. Institutional changes are definitely needed. Therefore my question remains, how can we better support local governments to invest in sanitation, to make at least some progress.

Best,
Ant.

Antoinette Kome
Global Sector Coordinator WASH
SNV
Antoinette Kome
Global Sector Coordinator WASH

SNV Netherlands Development Organisation

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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Official part of discussion closing soon

Dear Dr. Jonathan,

I’m referring to your 14 July post. You have put it very nicely. I fully agree with you when you say: “Political interference and corrupt practices in service extensions and in tariff setting is commonplace and the quality of service is poor…”

In the context of Sindh, I’m wondering whether it is the people themselves who make sanitation facilities unsustainable, or it is the lack of O&M funding that is making the sanitation facilities dysfunctional, or it is the high-level corruption that is destroying the sanitation facilities; or it is the combination of all these 3 factors.

Regards,

F H Mughal
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  • Katrin
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Re: Official part of discussion closing soon

Dear participants,

Thank you all for sharing your experiences and raising questions on this discussion thread so far.

This is just a short notice that the official part of this discussion will end tomorrow. What this means is that contributions published by tomorrow evening will be included in the summary of this discussion, which will be published next week.

You will of course be able to continue the conversation after this point. However, if you would like your ideas and thoughts to be included in the official summary of our discussion, please make sure to publish your response by tomorrow!

Thank you,
Katrin
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  • APROSAN
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Re: City level sustainable full cost recovery - How to ensure finances for services for the entire city and entire sanitation chain?

In Burundi, in our town of Bujumbura and other centers urban, there are few public toilets; those which exist are payable and drainable. These toilets use much water whereas we do not have enough water sufficient.
1/ For the purpose of saving water, the APROSAN took the operational objective of promoting the construction of environmental latrines to support the Government of Burundi. with the intention of collecting the feces already decomposed to have organic manure that can be used in plantation we asked the permission to construct in public places for 10 land scape where many people often see each other,
• Aprosan gave itself an objective to collect immondices, for now we focused ourselves in the north of the capital and we experienced in the field of homogeneous mixture of garbage purely of faecal material decomposed, and purely of garbage decomposed, to arrive to the satisfaction of the production of the organic manures well maintained.
• We need a processing unit which will serve us in the sale of organic manure certified

2/ To claim a refundable credit in Burundi, the banks require higher rates and the population has not yet been aware on the use of the fecal matter transformed, in this case, we do not manage to fulfill the commitments with the banks.

Once the repayable financing is available we are able to honor our commitments after the operation and the organic manuring will be sold from the unit of transformation
3/ The rates of the materials that we use during the promotion and construction of latrines are standards depending on rate of exchange of the dollars because the imported materials therefore we are paying the taxes of customs and taxes on value added and for the payment we are doing the transfer of money and they deliver the goods
HARARAWE Delphin
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.aprosan-burundi.com

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  • KumiAbeysuriya
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  • Independent sustainable development researcher with a passion to enable developing countries and communities to ‘leap frog’ to the leading edge of sustainable urban sanitation services.
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Re: City level sustainable full cost recovery - How to ensure finances for services for the entire city and entire sanitation chain?

Dear all,

Some very important issues have been raised in this discussion, and there’s been great sharing of your wealth of experiences – thank you!

Your recent posts highlighted that provision of effective sanitation services is complex, with a great many important and interwoven factors that need to be addressed at the same time - financing is just one of them! This came out in the earlier threads of this thematic discussion as well.

- Mordecai, Mughal and Jonathan discussed transparency, integrity and trust as critically important for the relationship between service providers and users. There are no simple answers on how to build these, as Jonathan wrote - Water Integrity Network, Transparency International, Water Governance Facility and others are working on this.

- Appropriate regulations are needed, such as building codes that take local contexts into account, with clear institutional responsibility for enforcement, mentioned by Kevin.

- Effective management, administration and decision-making processes are needed, to achieve outcomes efficiently. Elisabeth and Dave illustrated this in the case of scheduled desludging. The cost of implementing such processes may have their own risks for service providers, noted by Kevin. Good practices and processes need to be maintained once achieved, to avoid the back-sliding such as Dave recently observed at Dumaguete City.

- The importance of using incentives for service users to demand (and pay for) services, and for service providers to deliver services that safeguard public health and the environment, was identified by Dave. Planning and budgeting for services (linked to effective management above) should therefore include initiatives for maintaining demand, communicating with users about their needs and satisfaction with services, and being responsive to feedback.

- Selection of appropriate sanitation systems is important as they determine capital and operating costs, and how well they deliver the outcomes. Jonathan mentioned the need to use financial tools, and evaluating options through cost-effectiveness analysis taking a lifecycle view. Gordon McGranahan makes an additional point regarding choosing options: to aim for sanitation systems that achieve an “affordable improvement of the highest quality”, rather than trying to achieve some predetermined standard at the least cost (that could sacrifice sustainability and affordability).

In this light, should we say sustainable full cost recovery is necessary but not sufficient for effective long term sanitation services? All of the above interconnected factors need attention, plus more! I believe they broadly relate to good governance: “the competent management of [a city’s] resources and affairs in a manner that is open, transparent, accountable, equitable and responsive to people’s needs” (as defined by the former AusAID).

Although ‘water and sanitation’ are so frequently treated as twin pillars in the development sector, Kevin’s post reminds us that sanitation is qualitatively different. Sanitation deals with ‘stuff we don’t want’ – and the private benefit comes from having it taken away safely from users’ domain. What happens after it is taken away is not necessarily of private interest if there is no direct impact or benefit to the service user. So it is no surprise that householders may be willing to pay for sludge to be removed from their domain, but less interested in sludge treatment, or in out-of-sight sewers and septic tanks that may leak and contaminate water resources (unless it is their source of water supply). Effective sanitation services that support public health, environmental protection, urban cleanliness and amenity beyond the private domain are public benefits. The ‘public’, represented by government, should therefore pay for this share of the benefit.

It would be interesting to discuss whether it is necessary that the government, in taking responsibility for achievement of the public benefits, should also seek to break even or make a profit in the process as Kevin proposes (and invites counter argument!). Is it feasible under current models for delivering urban sanitation? What would it take to make it more feasible?

Regards,
Kumi
Dr. Kumi Abeysuriya
Independent Consultant

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The following user(s) like this post: F H Mughal, Katrin

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  • kevintayler
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  • I am a water and sanitation engineer, also interested in general urban housing issues. In recent years, I have worked on FSM for various organizations
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Re: City level sustainable full cost recovery - How to ensure finances for services for the entire city and entire sanitation chain?

Hello everyone

I have been asked to explain something that I said in my earlier post. The relevant part of the post reads as follows:

One point to note here is that for this to happen, the service provider (normally Local Government) must be engaged in sludge collection and transport - this is where there is potential revenue. Numerous studies show that people are much less willing to pay for treatment to protect the environment so a model with independent private sector collection and transport operators delivering to publicly owned treatment facilities will not be financially viable.

My point is that people are willing to pay for septage removal and transport out of their immediate neighborhood but will not pay directly for treatment. As indicated in the previous post, there are studies that confirm this in relation to both septage management and solid waste management. Septage treatment is a public good and as such the cost for it must be met by the public sector. (If anyone doubts this, I would point to the history of water and wastewater treatment in countries like the UK. Water supply schemes were often started by the private sector, although many were eventually taken over by local authorities. In contrast, I cannot think of any examples of trunk sewerage and wastewater treatment being initiated by the private sector).

So, we have the situation that septage treatment must be financed by the public sector but will operate at a loss. There is demand for pit/tank emptying and sludge transport services and it is possible for operators to make a profit from providing these services. If that profit goes to private operators, acting independently of the municipal authorities who are operating treatment plants, the profit will go to the private sector while the costs of operating the loss-making treatment plant will be borne by the public sector. My argument is thus that the public sector must be in a position to obtain an income from sludge removal and transport services if they are to have any chance of breaking even or making a profit overall. This does not mean that they have to provide removal and transport services themselves but it does mean that they must be able to gain an income from the activities of private contractors. This might be done by levying licensing charges on the private contractors but I think that the much better model is for the statutory service provider to contract private sector operators to provide services on its behalf. This model is commonly found in solid waste management in the UK and no doubt in other countries. It is true that septic tank emptying here is carried out by licensed private sector operators but septage treatment requirements here are insignificant in relation to the overall need for sewage treatment.

The scheduled emptying model that USAID and WSP are promoting in the Philippines and Indonesia depends on people making a regular monthly payment to the main service provider, which in both cases is some form of public sector organization. This model requires that all tankers, whether privately operated or not, work within the formal system, receiving payment from the main service provider rather than directly from households. So, I would argue that there is a place for private sector operators but only if they work within the formal systems managed by public sector statutory providers.

I hope that this explains my reasoning. If anyone disagrees with the reasoning, it will be good to hear counter-arguments.
Kevin Tayler
Independent water and sanitation consultant
Horsham
UK

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