India-Africa Experience Sharing Workshop on Septage Management including Decentralised Wastewater Treatment

26th February, 2015

Venue: Tamarind Hall, Core 4B, Upper Ground, India Habitat Centre

In Africa by 2050 the urban population is projected to increase by approximately 700 million urban dwellers. With emerging new urban centres, water demand will increase significantly, which will in turn result in an upsurge of wastewater generation. But the waterborne sewerage systems are rare in Africa and sanitation is pre-dominantly onsite. In urban areas, sanitation facilities are typically shared by multiple families. Most African cities are finding it a challenge in developing and running a conventional centralised wastewater management due to restraints in the technical, financial and legal aspects. 

Ms Sunita Narain, Director General, CSE addressing the participants at the inaugural session, discussed the importance of prioritising and incorporating sustainable wastewater treatment and local reuse in planning strategies. Ms Narain stressed on the need of building the south-south network to re-inevent the septage /wastewater management paradigm, focusing on Africa.

Dr Suresh Rohilla, Programme Director, CSE provided an overview of the emerging wastewater scenario in African countries and stated that the workshop aimed to identity key issues, challenges, and capacity building needs of both state and non-state actors in select countries of Africa. The need for experience sharing on status of policies, practices and BMPs of wastewater management was emphasised in order to develop a south-south network of practitioners, regulators and other stakeholders.  

The workshop was attended by key actors from 18 countries – who were invited to make a country presentation. 

Key points highlighted in the presentations are as follows - 

Osilama Emokho Braimah, Environmental Protection Board, Nigeria mentioned that Nigeria’s rapid population growth has not been accompanied by an increase in water supply and provision of sewerage and sanitation facilities. Currently, the country still lacks a comprehensive strategy to address issues such as excreta disposal and drainage and treatment of wastewater. As a result, about 80 per cent of industrial wastewater is discharged into receiving water without treatment. It was suggested that solutions need to be adopted beyond household level by technology based on minimal energy utilisation. 

Rodwell Chandipo, Zambia Environmental Management Agency, Zambia highlighted the increase in informal patterns of settlement over the past few decades, which emerged with no official plans for liquid and solid waste management. Although there are national policies which address septage and wastewater treatment, enforcement is a key issue. Wastewater treatment is still not as effective and is associated with non-compliance to statutory requirements. In addition, wastewater reuse has still not been captured by policies. Likewise, Rwanda is facing a similar challenge to promote a culture for wastewater reuse.

Martha Wambui Irungu, Kenya Water for Health Organisation (KWAHO), Kenya focused on the lack of human resources and capacity / skills which are dampening wastewater management in Kenya. Furthermore, it was stressed that out-dated technology and dilapidated infrastructure was hindering further development in this field. These issues also emerged in Save Kumwenda’s (University of Malawi) - Malawi, country presentation where the lack of skilled human resources and ineffective technology was a key challenge for addressing sanitation in Malawi.

Country presentation(s) of Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda mentioned that financial and technological issues in conjunction with poor enforcement of existing policies is currently stifling progress of septage and wastewater management.  

In contrast, Samy Abdel Fattah Saad, Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation Egypt, explained that Egypt has been quite progressive with septage / wastewater management as the Millennium Development Goals for urban sanitation have been achieved. Sanitation systems which include collection, transport, treatment, effluent reuse and disposal works have been constructed. However, concerns are now raised on progress with addressing sanitation in rural areas due to the reduction in the capital budget. 

South Asia country presentations (India and Nepal) conveyed that septage and wastewater generation exceeds the treatment capacity. Thailand and Vietnam country presentations mentioned that most households have access to sanitation facilities; however significant measures need to be taken in terms of prioritising faecal sludge management and raising awareness amongst the community for the same.  

Furthermore, CSE South Asia programme partner (Water Aid, Bangladesh) shared the range of activities that had been undertaken by the CSE-Water Aid partnership. This includes training programmes for practitioners on planning, designing decentralised wastewater treatment and local reuse. Some successfully implemented case examples of model projects showcasing decentralized waste water treatment systems at community scales developed by CSE training alumni were presented.

By the end of the workshop, the gaps with regards to wastewater management in African and South-Asian countries had emerged, where all the country representatives had a consensus on the urgency of creating a stronger enabling environment supported by south-south exchange in African and Asian town/cities. CSE flagged the importance of policy interventions and in particular the need to identify capacity building needs (of both state and non-state practitioners, regulators, managers) for mainstreaming BMPs for sustainable decentralised wastewater management and local reuse including septage management. 

Photo Gallery

For further details contact: 

Mahreen Matto, Programme Officer

Suresh Rohilla, Programme Director