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.


2017 Quarter 1 Progress of SSD Project

Sanitation Service Delivery (SSD) aims to increase the use of sanitation and safe disposal of fecal waste by influencing the region’s sector to create a more effective, efficient and inclusive market for the urban poor in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Market Constraints

An urban sanitation market landscape analysis was completed in the three countries. This analysis identified the causes of market failures and intervention areas that would deliver the greatest impacts. During this analysis, a team assessed existing sanitation products and services, visited markets, and conducted interviews with producers, sales staff, and consumers. This was essential to gaining an understanding of market actors’ roles, expectations, incentives, behaviors, and financing options, and chokepoints in the supply chain. The following market constraints were identified in all three countries:

  • Sanitation products perceived as expensive by low-income consumers;
  • Lack of local manufacturing and installation capacity;
  • Lack of affordable options for fecal sludge collection and storage;
  • Mistrust between consumers and service providers, and lack of standards to influence performance;
  • Low capacity of vacuum truck operators (VTOs) to completely empty tanks;
  • Lack of finance for new VTO equipment; and,
  • VTOs not earning sufficient margins.

Prototyping Improvements

In order to address these key market failures and create a more efficient, inclusive sanitation market for the urban poor, product and service delivery improvements were prototyped in Year 2. Prototypes included prefabricated septic tanks in Cote d’Ivoire; improved pit latrines in Benin; landlord finance models in Cote d’Ivoire and Benin; and interactive call centers to help optimize the work of VTOs. The team was also involved with the development of finance mechanisms to help business start-ups for entrepreneurs building toilets; the innovation of new sanitation technologies and services; and actionable learning to influence policy and practice at scale. The benefits of strengthening the enabling environment through better collaboration with the private sector and the development of regulatory frameworks has been advocated to municipal and national governments throughout the project.

Private Sector Scale-up

After testing these prototypes and service models, the team is now working with private sector entities, such as concrete manufactures and VTOs, to develop scale-up strategies for the prefabricated septic tanks in Cote d’Ivoire and offset pit latrines with SaTo pans in Benin. In Cote d’Ivoire and Benin, a call center is also being developed to improve the quality and reduce the cost of mechanized septic tank emptying. To accelerate toilet sales in Ghana, sales agents and artisans are being trained and community marketing events are being held. Ghanaian private sector entities are also helping the team introduce the pre-fabricated septic tanks that will be scaled-up in Cote d’Ivoire. In Kumasi, Ghana, the Clean Team is testing a mobile money model to reduce operations cost and increase profitability with support from SSD.

Recent Program Highlights

  • Installation of first on-site pilot septic tank in Yopougon, Cote d’Ivoire using ferro-cement. Ferro-cement is a system of reinforced mortar applied over a layer of metal mesh attached to a grid of 6mm rebar. This technique creates a strong and light structure.
  • GIS mapping of the latrine toilet and septic tank supply chains in the project districts of Cote d’Ivoire and Benin. This mapping facilitates an understanding of service provider distribution, which can be used to improve service coverage. When a gap is identified, such as if a concrete ring manufacturer is not located nearby, a local business is identified to fill the gap to minimize transportation costs.
  • Implementation of pit latrines pilot phase using the SaTo pan as a user interface in 25 households in Abomey-Calavi, Benin.
  • During the workshops with Ghanaian WASH sector stakeholders, it was recommended that more builders, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs should be recruited and trained. Addressing the insufficient number of skilled artisans in the market would improve program implementation.

SSD is a five-year, $15.8 million USAID/West African regional urban sanitation project launched in October 2014. SSD is implemented by Population Services International in collaboration with PATH and Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor. Check out their recent progress on their Facebook page.

The African Water Association (AfWA) and the SSD Program are working to improve the quality of water and sanitation in West Africa

It is now done: the AfriCap program of AfWA and Sanitation Service Delivery program of PSI have officially started. These are two programs funded by the West Africa Regional Office of the US Agency for International Development (USAID-WA). The Africap program will enable AfWA to reinforce its capacities to better fulfill its missions, promote knowledge sharing and improve water quality by strengthening the capacities of the laboratories. The second program, SSD, piloted by Population Service International, will provide basic sanitation services to households in distress.


This presentation ceremony marking the official start of these two programs took place on Friday, December 9, 2016 in Abidjan and brought together several personalities from the water and sanitation sector, as well as technical partners and donors.


Opening a series of addresses, Mr. Sylvain USHER, the Executive Director of the African Water Association, presented the objectives pursued by his organization before pointing out the urgency of granting substantial funding to the water and sanitation sector, whose impacts on public health are often disastrous if water resources are not properly treated. With the support of his country to the African continent, the representative of the USAID Office in Côte d’Ivoire, Jeff Bryan, recalled that the United States is investing significant resources in development programs such as AfriCap and SSD to strengthen support to the countries in the sub-region in achieving their national development goals. To further inform the audience on these two different programs, the respective coordinators, Giles Djagoun on behalf of AfriCap, Capacity Building Programs of AfWA, and Serge Milord Seiba on behalf of the SSD Program of PSI, in turn, presented their objectives, missions, targets and expectations.


Mr. Tape Zékré, Special Adviser on Sanitation Issues, welcomed and encouraged the joint initiative of AfWA and PSI on behalf of the Minister for Urban Sanitation and Urban Waste Management of Côte d’Ivoire, Anne Désiré OULOTO. He also indicated that the Government is ready to support these various programs, whose results, in the long-run, will contribute to improving water quality and sanitation services for the populations in the sub-region in general and in Cote d’Ivoire in particular.