Assessment of Operational Status of Fecal Sludge Treatment Plants

The demand for safely managed sanitation services is increasing with the rise of the global population. The declaration of open defecation-free (ODF) in 2019 has ensured access to toilets to all in Nepal but increased the challenge of safe management of generated sludge from these toilets. Ten Faecal sludge treatment plants (FSTP) have been established by 2022 but studies on their operational status are limited. This paper aims to present the operational status and implication of social, financial, technical and managerial aspects on the operational good/poor status of seven FSTPs in Nepal. The study was conducted through literature review, deskwork, key informant interview (KII), multi-stakeholder consultation meeting (MSCM),   field observation  and data analysis. The study was conducted in 6 operational FSTPs; Lubhu, Gulariya, Charali, Kakarbhitta, Waling and Birendranagar, and one established but not operational FSTP; Madhuwan. The FSTPs were accessed on 7 indicators in total considering social, managerial, technical and financial aspects. None of these FSTPS was in good operation in all aspects. However, Gulariya and Waling FSTP were in the satisfactory condition given the treatment quality meets the standards protecting the public health of locals. To conclude, FSTPs in Nepal are still facing challenges in operating in good condition.

Underground Sewerage Schemes: Last Mile Connectivity

To keep up with the demands of rapid urbanisation, the Government of Tamil Nadu (GoTN) has accorded priority to implement Under Ground Sewerage Schemes (UGSS) in all the needy Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) through different financial schemes in a phased manner. The GoTN has made efforts to reach the ‘last mile’ with adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene in ULBs of Tamil Nadu.  This paper aims to draw insights into the underlying factors and initiatives taken by the GoTN for the UGSS last-mile connectivity in the state.

Indeed, in a state like Tamil Nadu (TN), sanitation is essential for enhancing the quality of life and health and improving productivity. In this regard, GoTN has taken initiatives in UGSS implementation and also in Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) in a phased manner to reach last mile, which are broken down into three stages detailed in the full article attached herein: i) from 2000 to 2008; ii) from 2008 to 2017; iii) from 2018 to present.

Apart from the financial support initiatives to the households, dedicated Information, education and communication (IEC) programmes were also conducted in different parts of the state to educate the households on taking the service connections to avoid direct disposal of wastewater to the stormwater drains or the neighbouring lands.

For the ULBs which are not covered under the UGSS implementation scheme, a separate plan had been prepared on FSM for safely managed sanitation in the state. The timeline of legal and regulatory framework associated with FSM initiatives are given in the full article attached herein.

The use of water supply and sewerage connection deposits, interest-free loans, and taxes in Tamil Nadu suggests that long-term sustainability of sewerage systems can be achieved with policy commitment, effective project appraisals and citizen involvement. The efforts by GoTN on UGSS last-mile connectivity can be taken as a reference by other states to improve the last mile with inclusive sanitation. The major lesson learned from the UGSS implementation is that the selection of towns for the implementation has to be based more on public demand, their capacity to pay back the loan amount, and the financial capability of the ULB than on the readiness of the DPR for the project.

A Monitoring Technique of Desludging and Decanting Faecal Sludge

Tamil Nadu is a rapidly urbanising state that has been establishing and scaling up sustainable FSSM, leading the way in innovating technologies and operating models in sanitation. Safe collection, handling, and transport of fecal sludge (FS) is an integral part of a septage management programme. This paper documents the use of load axle sensors with GPS technology in the de-sludging vehicle to understand the movement of the vehicle, de-sludging and disposal locations, travel distance and time, and the time for de-sludging and decanting. These learnings help determine the location of current disposal, service area, and planning of decanting facilities.

 As a matter of fact, de-sludging vehicles collect and transport septage to designated decanting facilities, eliminating the need for manual emptying and reducing the risk of human contact with FS. As per the Tamil Nadu Urban Local Bodies (Amendment) Act (2022), the desludging vehicle must install a GPS device to monitor the de-sludging and decanting activities.

However, GPS can only track the movement of the vehicle and not locate de-sludge locations and whether operators were safely decanting the FS at the designated spot. Identification of the desludging and decanting locations with loaded quantities using GPS technology is difficult and a highly time-consuming process. The time required to analyse each vehicle could be a challenge for the ULBs as they scale this monitoring strategy.

Therefore, a study done on this aspect by the Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme (TNUSSP), intended to identify the possibilities of monitoring the de-sludging vehicles using a load sensor with GPS technology.

This monitoring helps identify the service area of the vehicle, the desludging and decanting locations, quantity of FS collected, travel time and distance between desludging and decanting locations, and time for desludging and decanting.  The analysis of travel distance and time aids for planning additional decanting facilities. Additionally, the vehicle was discovered to be loaded overnight and parked, so it is advised to keep the decanting station open at night as well.

Field teams are working on upgrading the system with an ultrasonic load sensor for more accuracy at an affordable cost.  Also, the option of incorporating the sensor output with the FSSM application to plan schedule de-sludging, auto deduction of decanting fee and real-time plant utilization rate, etc., are under progress.

The major challenges associated with scaling this monitoring technique are as follows.

  1. Requirement of an efficient monitoring system within the ULB
  2. Highly priced system: Possibility of vehicle owners with more number of vehicles refusing to adopt
  3. Lower acceptance among de-sludging operators for installation fearing regular monitoring of their activities
  4. Possibility of vehicle operators tampering with device
  5. Difficulty in orientation for desludging operators about proper desludging and decanting due to frequent changes in personnel.

Download the full article to read more.

Share Water No. 13

The thirteenth issue of the African Water Association (AfWA) technical and bilingual magazine, Share Water, is now available. It provides solutions in terms of guidelines and tools likely to help manage the WASH businesses efficiently and mitigate the shortage of water supply, for improved access to sustainable water and sanitation services for all in Africa.

Among these solutions, the water safety plan (WSP) approach is widely recognized as the most reliable and effective way to consistently manage drinking-water supplies to safeguard public health. Since the introduction of WSPs in the third edition of the WHO Guidelines for Drinking water Quality (GDWQ) and the International Water Association (IWA) Bonn Charter for Safe Drinking Water in 2004, a significant number of water suppliers have implemented WSPs, and many governments are actively promoting their implementation and/or inclusion in national legislation.

Some benefits of WSP implementation include the promotion of public health by continuously assuring safer drinking-water for consumers, the setting up of a proactive (rather than reactive) framework for managing drinking water quality, the early identification of new/increased risks-incidents, the in-depth systematic evaluation of water systems, and much more…


Training in Municipal WaSH Project Management in Dschang, Cameroon

In collaboration with the German-African Partnership for Water and Sanitation (GAPWAS), the African Water Association (AfWA) organized from 10 to 13 October 2022 in Dschang, Cameroon, a training session on Water & Sanitation Technical Project Management at the Municipal level. This workshop aimed at sharing good practices from North-South partnerships on the regulatory and operational dimensions of municipal project management.

This training session effectively strengthened the capacities of technicians within the municipalities, decentralized technical government services, delegated managers and support operators (NGOs, projects, programs, consultancy office) so that they can fully play their role under the efficient supervision of elected representatives. At the end of this four- (04) day session, the participants were able to present the post-training action plans developed under the working groups, whose implementation will help improve the water and sanitation public service quality.

This document presents examples of action plans developed.


This eleventh issue of the African Water Association’s semi-annual bilingual Technical Journal “SHARE WATER” explores innovative and good practice solutions to build resilient and sustainable African cities. Thus, the various articles proposed, including a brilliant case study on sludge recovery practices for a circular economy in Senegal, focus on the steps to be taken to achieve inclusive sanitation at the scale of cities in Africa. In addition, alternative solutions to water stress are proposed for better management of water resources: the Windhoek wastewater reuse model, the intercommunality underpinned by the ATPC (Community-Led Total Sanitation) approach which leads to the establishment of a water and sanitation technical service in a municipality in Niger, Molecular Bi-Orientation for high-quality PVC pipes that comply with international standards, the production of drinking water from ambient air or the treatment of water with solar energy in four West African countries.