Cost-effective technology options for Faecal Sludge ManagementIn India a significant amount of sewage goes untreated and flows back into the eco...Cost-effective technology options for Faecal Sludge Management
In India a significant amount of sewage goes untreated and flows back into the ecosystem. This can potentially lead to the spread of disease-causing pathogens that are harmful for the environment and public health.
Sustainable sanitation systems combined with facilities and knowledge to practice good hygiene are a strong defence against COVID-19 and future disease outbreaks. Therefore, there is an urgent need for us to move beyond the toilet and start focusing on treatment of waste.
Compared to centralised sewerage systems, Faecal Sludge Management is a faster and cost-effective alternative as it aims to fix gaps in the sanitation value chain by tapping into already existing systems and infrastructure, at the local level, in a scientific manner ensuring easy adoption and sustainability over a long term, write the authors of this commentary.
It was a proud moment for India when in October 2020, the government announced that close to 99% of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and 100% of rural India have achieved Open Defecation Free status. While one cannot deny the fact that India has made massive strides in its effort to provide improved sanitation to its people, there are still many questions around its sustenance and linkage to a complete sanitation solution. Building toilets is one thing, but the country’s real success would lie in achieving (by 2030) the SDGs that link Water and Sanitation as a whole.
While toilets are the first step to curtailing open defecation, building toilets alone does not guarantee safe sanitation. In fact, toilets bring with them a larger set of problems. First, getting people to use them; the second biggest challenge is the safe and scientific management of the faecal waste generated from these toilets. This is a matter of pressing concern, especially for India where 70% of the population relies on onsite sanitation systems, such as septic tanks and pits, faecal waste from which is finding its way (back) into the environment – mainly waterbodies – untreated, nevertheless. This coupled with discharge of other streams of waste (like solid waste and greywater) further compounds the issue of managing existing surface water resources, which have been bearing the brunt of pollution for a long time now.
The issue isn’t about our waste management practices or lack of the same, but about our general attitude towards one of our most valuable life-sustaining resource – water!
With the growing developments in urban centres today, there is huge pressure on natural water resources. As most surface water resources are heavily polluted, people are largely tapping into groundwater, which if not checked (soon) could lead to a grave situation in the near situation.