Published On : Mon, Nov 19th, 2012

Decentralisation of Sanitation- It’s time to act!



Nagpur Today Press Conference Today 19 Nov,2012 at Hotel Airport Centre Point :

Inadequate funding, constrained resources and lack of attention to the contextual factors of particular locations have been linked to the critical state of urban sanitation in developing regions (Evans 2005; Gutierrez et al. 2003; Abeysuriya et al 2005). Decentralised sanitation options may have greater potential to avoid these factors than centralised options, as they are generally less resource intensive, more adaptable to local conditions and regarded as better able to meet broad sustainability criteria (Lens, Zeeman & Lettinga 2001; Newman 2001).


Decentralised Basic Need Services (DBNS) are not intended to replace but rather to complement Centralised Systems. eg. Treating wastewater in nullahs and reducing the pollution load on surface water bodies rejuvenates the natural drainage system. Through the community-based sanitation approach, the peri-urban and core-area slum communities of the city could access basic needs services. By intervening at the planning stage, adequate provisions for basic services can be provided to newly developing areas of the city. At-source treatment eliminates conveyance costs and results in reducing investments by local bodies for provision of essential services to growing peripheral communities.

DBNS brings simplicity in planning and management of infrastructure leading to sustainability. Approaches like DEWATS – CBS offer choice to Urban Local Bodies towards decentralised sanitation. Technical approaches like DEWATS cater to the demands of environmental standards as well as suits the user’s demands. They comply with the norms of Pollution Control Boards towards environmental standards.
The experiences of the Bremen Overseas Research and Development Agency (BORDA) confirm these observations.

About BORDA-
BORDA (Bremen Overseas Research & Development Association) is a specialist organisation active in the fields of poverty alleviation, sustainable protection of natural resources and the strengthening of social structures. BORDA was established as a non-profit organization in 1977 by concerned citizens from Bremen with assistance from the Bremen Overseas Museum , various institutes of Bremen Universities, and trade and industry enterprises as well as with support from Bremen’s Senate.
Since 2001, BORDA has concentrated on development-oriented cooperation projects and services in the field of Basic Needs Services (BNS). These projects, operating within the context of social-structure reform, are geared towards the development and dissemination of sustainable, decentralised service models with the intent of improving the supply of Basic Needs Services.

BORDA, a German based Non Government Organisation (NGO) with projects in India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Phillipines, China and southern Africa, has significant depth of experience implementing solutions to the challenges of sanitation in conjunction with local partners. BORDA projects facilitate basic needs service provision to urban and peri-urban communities in developing countries.

BORDA’s services are considered ‘decentralised’, because all inputs and outputs of the process are managed within the boundaries of the project site, and rely upon community or customer-based decision making processes. BORDA’s Projects related to DEWATS aim to support communities /SME’s/Builders/Town Planners in planning , designing and constructing effective, reliable, cost efficient and custom-made wastewater treatment system.

BORDA’s mission –
The Mission of BORDA is to improve the living conditions of disadvantaged communities and to keep the environment intact through the expansion of Basic Needs Services in the areas of decentralised sanitation, water and energy supply as well as wastewater and solid waste disposal. In the past ten years, around 1,000 projects have been developed with partner organisations in Asia and Africa. These project activities were carried out by BORDA in close cooperation with authorities (government ministries and local governments), representatives of low-income settlements, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and public facilities (schools, hospitals, and prisons).

About CDD Society-

The CDD network is a consortium of more than 22 organisations, coordinated by the CDD Society, who are committed to improving the social, economic and environmental conditions of the marginalised in South Asia. The network disseminates decentralised basic needs services across South Asia. The network members and associates represent diverse regions, fields of specialisation within DBNS services and different types of organisations. Apart from DBNS services, each partner is engaged in their own development and environmental fields.
From 1992 till 2002, only a few organisations were promoting DBNS. In 2002, these organisations evolved into an informal network, CDD (Consortium for DEWATS Dissemination). In 2005, the network was formally registered, with the CDD Society acting as the secretariat. There are now more than 22 network members spread over nine Indian states, as well as members in Nepal.
Decentralised Basic Needs services by BORDA –

BORDA aims to provide sustainable and environmentally sound services for basic needs to disadvantaged segments of society. As part of the BNS Network BORDA supports primarily promotion of decentralized basic needs services (DBNS) around community based sanitation (CBS) for marginalized communities. As the larger concern extends to environmental protection; it supports promotion of Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems (DEWATS) and Solid Waste management (DESWAM) for such communities as well as for small and medium—scale enterprises and institutions. The BNS (Basic Needs Services) Network aims to promote and support national action, collaboration and political will for Sanitation issues / solutions.

Other than offering decentralised solutions towards sanitation, the approach involves capacity building of staff of municipal corporations as well as of the user groups for the operation and maintenance of the created infrastructure. Such technologies are most suitable for small and medium enterprises and for domestic loads of manageable quantity. Thus, “Decentralisation of Basic Need Services” could be seen as a major sector of intervention for urban local bodies especially of small and medium towns.

Common Wastewater Problems within Small and Medium Enterprises

• Many SME are not able to pay high investment and maintenance costs required for sophisticated wastewater treatment system.
• Maintenance of sophisticated wastewater treatment systems require high-skilled personnel.
• Due to lack of investment capital and technical knowledge SME often adapt non-effective low-cost “solutions”.
• Wastewater discharged by SME often does not meet environmental standards.
Demand towards wastewater treatment-
The demand for reliable, efficient and low-cost wastewater treatment systems is increasing worldwide where adequate wastewater treatment systems do not exist and uncontrolled discharge of wastewater endangers environmental health and water resources
Constraints of conventional treatment systems-
In order to achieve national sanitation standards and to realise a comprehensive regional and local planning, decision makers have to be aware about different technological solutions at their disposal. An increasing number of public bodies and institutions take the fact into account that today more comprehensive sanitation strategies need to be developed than in the past.
It can be observed, that centralised wastewater systems (sewage and combined system with post connected multistage wastewater treatment facilities) can no longer be the exclusive option in meeting the demand for a rapid improvement of sanitation conditions.
Nowadays centralised wastewater systems are both still the standard type of wastewater treatment especially in industrialised countries and also the dominant technical feature in the planning processes of infrastructural development all over the world.
But the high investments required for the sewage systems along with the high costs for operating and maintaining centralised wastewater treatment plans have became major obstacles for a rapid expansion.
Besides the fact that neither public bodies nor private investors are able to sufficiently meet these financial requirements, the negative ecological effect of centralised water systems is tremendous.
1) The high demand on water to operate such a system (a toilet needs up to 20 litres per flush) increases the pressure on water resources.
2) At the same time, poor technological performance and insufficient maintenance cause poor treatment quality in a quite a number of cases.
3) The discharge and sludge from centralised wastewater systems are often highly contaminated with hazardous substances (nutrients, pathogens, pharmaceutical residues, hormones and other substances such as heavy metals) especially when household wastewater is mixed with commercial and industrial wastewater. Since an appropriate post treatment often cannot be cannot be ensured, soils and waters became polluted.

Advantages of Decentralisation:

In the decentralised treatment system, a balance between the advantages of large scale treatment in terms of economics of scale and individual responsibility for domestic wastewater treatment can be obtained by providing colony-wise/sector-wise treatment systems. Responsibility of construction as well as operation and maintenance may be taken up collectively by the residential colonies/builders/developers. Specific treatment technology should be selected as per the prevailing ground situation like availability of the land, etc.
Following are the advantages of decentralised systems –

1) Avoids deep and large sizes of sewers.
2) Number of pumping stations is reduced to a minimum.
3) Minimizes long pumping mains.
4) Cost of construction of the sewerage system is reduced.
5) Maintenance is simplified.
6) Relatively less blockage of flow for maintenance operations.
7) Maintenance cost, especially due to reduced pumping is drastically reduced.
8) Treatment and disposal at multiple locations favors equitable reuse of recycled water.
9) In times of natural (Earthquakes, Floods etc.) or manmade disasters (Sabotage, Terrorist Act) only a small portion of the system is affected, which can be repaired easily and in shortest possible time. This is highly significant in avoiding long disruption of service and resultant inconvenience to people in such situations.
Key Components of DEWATS construction Cost –
Construction of a DEWATS unit in general has the following cost heads or centers.
 Land cost
 Land development cost
 Construction materials cost
 Labour cost
 Design and supervision cost
 DEWATS electro-mechanical equipments and accessories cost
 Transportation
 Operation and Maintenance

The major chunk of cost are associated with civil construction followed by equipment, accessories, and expert consultancy cost. Operation and maintenance represents a small portion of the investment. For the purpose of cost estimation, we have not included

(1) Land cost

(2) Land development cost

(3) design and supervision cost

(4) operation and maintenance cost.

Hence, the estimated costs here essentially reflect the construction and DEWATS equipments cost only.