Faecal Sludge Management

I just stepped out of a meeting on how we will continue dealing with the complex problem of Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) in Nairobi. This is a key issue: a large number of toilets are not connected to the sewer system and space constraints often do not allow for the digging of a new toilet when the old one is full. So what is to be done with the waste so that the toilet can continue to be used?

Emptying a filled pit of faecal sludge

Emptying a filled pit of faecal sludge

The next stage in the process is generally conducted by a Community-Based Organisation (CBO) or entrepreneur, who will empty the pits and dump the waste. But too often this process will be done unhygienically, at an unaffordable cost and the waste may be dumped to a local river, rather than an appropriate location.* How is ACF dealing with this?

Well, we are working with an on-the-ground organisation called Kara, who themselves do sludge removal for clients in Kibera. In the past, ACF has supported them with equipment to enable the hygienic emptying of these pits, and we have facilitated access to the sewerage system, so that they can safely dump it. We have also sought to give them capacity-building on aspects of business management, which remains an on-going challenge.

One of the things we discussed is introducing greater competition to encourage Kara to up their game on professionalism, earning their clientele rather than relying on a monopoly market. We’ll be meeting with 3 different groups that are at different levels next week, to discuss current challenges, potential areas of collaboration and we also hope to link them to relevant service providers. As I learn bit more about FSM, I hope I’ll also be able to bring out some of those issues on this blog. In the meanwhile, I’m hoping to work on something that brings together the issues I discussed about water, so keep an eye open for that.

Using the supplied sewer entry point to safely dispose of faecal sludge.

Using the supplied sewer entry point to safely dispose of faecal sludge.

*I can testify that this is better than the alternative, which involves the toilet’s owner releasing the waste into the nearest drainage ditch at a time of heavy rains, so it will drain away, which is terrible in terms of hygiene and smell, not to mention the impact on the dignity of neighbours.

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