Background of the study: VERC has been implementing Water and Sanitation program since its inception as a component of technology promotion for livelihood status improvement. WatSan activities at the initial stage were mostly carried out in terms of production and distribution of latrine ring-slabs, installation of tube wells for safe water use promotion with limited hygiene education for awareness raising. The widely known Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) was evolved in early 2000. Since 1986, WaterAid Bangladesh (WAB) has been providing technical and financial support to VERC. Following the innovation of CLTS approach, WAB designed an umbrella approach known as ASEH (Advancing Sustainable Environmental Health) for scaling up of the key principles of CLTS. After that, as an extension of this ASEH, the new EEHCO (Enhancing Environmental Health by Community Organization) project started. This human excreta management and organic fertilizer production piloting is new initiative in EEHCO project.
From the primitive period, community people are habituated to defecate openly as they had no knowledge about the effect of faecal-oral transmission. The newly innovated CLTS approach helped them to choose and use low cost technologies and to defecate in a fixed place. However, from the field experience it was found that a significant proportion of latrines are not in use as it filled-up and there are no available hygienic pit emptying options in hand.
Based on this background, a team consisting of WaterAid representatives, VERC representatives and development expert Dr. Kamal Kar visited three communities under Bagmara and Manda upazila of Rajshahi and Naogoan district. During their visit community people highlighted their WatSan related success history. They expressed that now they are facing the challenges are - emptying of filled-up latrine pits and safe disposal of human excreta. Then the team suggested transforming of human excreta to organic manure through normal dumping process. The community people agreed upon their proposal and instantly some people also tried to practice the process.
Every year community people have to spend a significant amount of their income for purchasing chemical fertilizer. It the piloting is made successful, it could help them to save a good amount of money to spend on it. This issue will not only support to improve the livelihood conditions and environment but also it would also help to sustain the sanitation process very well.
Broad objective: Enhancing sustainable environmental sanitation
Present status of the piloting:
Since the inception of the CLTS approach there was an intention to find the WatSan issue as sustainability mode. During the ground work of community mobilization, triggering, committee formation, catalyst identification, community action planning, hardware installation, advocacy with local government and service providers, etc. it was observed that a certain proportion of population is always used to practice open defecation. On the basis of that observation, a field investigation had been conducted to find out the reasons behind it. The major reasons identified as – filled up latrine pits, use of shared latrines, habit, lack of awareness, lack of scope of facility, etc. Out of those issues a proportion of the people defecate openly due to the problem of filled-up latrine pits.
Under the Enhancing Environmental Health by Community Organization (EEHCO) project a joint initiative has been taken by VERC-WAB for piloting of human excreta (sludge) management in two working area unions of VERC. The main objective of this piloting is to identify a scientific method of sludge management in consideration with the hygiene issues during dumping and fertilizer processing.
At the grounding phase of the piloting a guideline was developed on how the process would be taken over in the field level. Then the activities have been made clear among the team members regarding its process, implementation, monitoring, etc. After that, four communities have been identified in consultation and interaction with community people in the two working area unions of Bagmara, Rajshahi and Manda, Naogoan. Two sanitation worker groups (sweeper) have been selected. They are working on emptying of the filled-up latrines. In this regard, the appropriate technology has been identified and purchased. The staffs, sanitation workers and CBOs has been well informed about this issue and they have shown their interest to see the result of the piloting as well as interested to use of organic fertilizer which has been targeted to produce from this piloting.
In the community mobilization phase the latrine mapping, wellbeing ranking, cause-effect analysis was done. Based on these findings an action plan was prepared to be followed during the implementation of the piloting activity. After forming a committee in the community level the MOU was also signed between sweeper group and community.
After being selected the filled-up latrine pits the dumping spots were selected with specification of pit size. The issue on cost contribution was made clear to all. Then, the latrine pit emptying was done and dumped into compost pit. A total of 40 pits have been dumped through collecting the sludge (excreta) of 44 latrines. The sludge of the pits is then mixed with various reagent, like-urea, gypsum, etc. in a very minimum amount to accelerate the process of decomposition. Various other decompose acceleration matter has also been used in the pit, like-dung, ash, household wastage, straw, leaf, waste matter and others. Monitoring of the process is going on and door step service is making available to the community level for their support. In relation to that regular history records are keeping for all dumping pits.
During the piloting activity the sharing with experts was done to have their comments regarding its process, prospect, etc. We will also have more sharing with other experts regarding this issue. We are hopeful that after few months the performance of the result will be identified through lab testing. The identified best practice/process will be shared among the sector experts and steps will be taken to scale-up the activity in different level. Some challenges are faced during implementation of the piloting are as follows:
|Submergible mud pump – one||12,500|
|Hose pipe (two inch dia)||3,000|
|Generator with diesel engine||19,500|
|Three wheel hauler||8,500|
|Others (nut-bolt, liaise, electric wire, generator frame, feetings, etc)||2,500|
The piloting activity is still under process and we are hopeful about its successful accomplishment. After completion of the piloting activity it will not only promote the environmental sanitation but also reduce the dependency on chemical fertilizers for agricultural purposes. We are also optimistic that the hygienic pit emptying process which will evolve from this piloting activity will be a national and global concern. If the process is properly scaled up, it will not only contribute for the WatSan sustainability issue but also enhance the environmental sanitation as well.