Sanitation Business Development

                                                              

Sanitation Business Development

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Solution proposed by: 
Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) and Eawag SANDEC (Presented during the Healthy and Just Cities Urban Thinkers Campus, hosted by World Vision International)
In a Nutshell: 
Most cities in low-income areas rely upon on-site sanitation systems. Since it is not financially viable to extend sewered systems across these cities, building up the private sector to manage onsite sanitation services and faecal sludge management have the greatest potential to achieve public and environmental health impacts.
Where and When: 
WSUP and Eawag-Sandec presented a number of case studies- some which they had supervised and other best practice from other organisations ‘The Clean Team’ began as an innovative sanitation business in Accra, Ghana in 2011. In Zambia, ‘The Dream Team’ began operating Lusaka in 2013 iDE Cambodia began a sanitation marketing and supply business in 2008, IRC Water and Sanitation Centre has reported on the work of the Bangalore Honeysucker micro-businesses.
Challenges: 
Many cities in low-income areas rely on onsite sanitation systems, not sewers, to manage the city’s wastewater. These systems generally involve some form of onsite collection, storage and/or treatment. Liquid waste is often then discarded – possibly into the groundwater or through illegal connections into the drainage system. The semi-solid waste continues to be stored onsite - building up over time. Without regular emptying and removal these sanitation systems end up overflowing or being abandoned. Therefore faecal sludge management (FSM) is very important for the sustainability of cities. In many cities FSM is inadequate– emptying methods expose workers to high health and disease risks; transport of waste is difficult; treatment is non-existent; and disposal of untreated sludge is regularly into the local drain, river or dumpsite.
Innovation: 
Eawag SANDEC and WSUP presented case studies of utilising innovative business models including (i) Sanitation branding and marketing methodologies; (ii) Human centred design processes; (iii) innovative technologies; (iii) innovative treatment processes; (iv) sale of treated products and (v) innovative business models. These approaches utilize emerging and best practice knowledge throughout the entire life of the project – both engineering and social science innovation - to ensure the best technical solutions and processes of community engagement, design and implementation. They intentionally use models which are able to be replicated and multiplied in different contexts to increase probability of growth and greater impact.
Concept: 
This solution is based on is the concept that developing private sector participation in urban sanitation will achieve superior outcomes for public and environmental health compared to those achieved when only government/utility providers are involved in urban sanitation. Private sector involvement is known to advance innovation as they seek to be more efficient, to provide a greater number of services and at a decreased cost. This therefore should result in a sanitation industry that is more willing to try new innovation and see if it increases profits, and thus results in more agile and flexible institutions that are able to provide reliable service provision while striving for financially viability.
Description: 
i) Sanitation branding and marketing – the management of sanitary waste is regularly considered a shameful job, making workers more vulnerable to low wages, abuse and harassment. Marketing sanitation services as a professional service, where employees have uniforms, protective equipment and registration cards can result in increased willingness to pay by customers and increase reputation among the community. Effective marketing can also increase the community’s awareness of need for tank emptying and thus increase business demand and improve business viability. (ii) Human centred design – the HCD idea suggests that rather than developing a technical solution first and require the community to adapt to the solution, that problem solving should start with the community that a solution is designed for an end purpose with the new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs. (iii) Innovative Technologies – In one example WSUP implemented dry toilets which collected the waste on site. This waste was then transported to a neighbourhood holding tank, before transfer and treatment. This project therefore, demonstrated models and approaches which are in direct contrast to the traditional water based transport or onsite treatment models. Technological innovation can occur at any stage in the faecal sludge management process: user interface (type of toilet); onsite storage and treatment (eg. source separating toilet); transport approaches; or treatment approaches. (iv) Sale of treated products – When the waste product is able to be valued by a sector of the community, it increases the viability of sanitation businesses as they can generate income both through the provision of a service (emptying/waste collection) and through the sale of the end product. (v) Innovative business models using decentralised entrepreneurship to replicate and mobilise sanitation markets.
Impacts: 
• Exponential growth of the desludging micro-businesses in Bangalore providing sustainable management of faecal sludge. – • Improved livelihoods and dignity of sanitation workers in Ghana and Zambia • Growing awareness and interest in the improvement and replication of sanitation business models. This can be seen through the centrality of business development in meetings such as the South Asian Conference on Sanitation (sacosanvi.gov.bd)

Photo Gallery

photo credits: WSUP
photo credits: WSUP