Faecal sludge management landscape in South Asia

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Image showing a plant worker preparing to empty vacutag in the Sakhipur co-compost plant, Tangail, Bangladesh.
Image: WaterAid/Al-Emran

Countries in South Asia have seen tremendous progress towards achieving open defecation free status. According to JMP data for 2017, 13% of the population of South Asia was defecating in the open.

However, most urban centres in the region still rely on pit latrines and septic tanks for treating sewage, and lack adequate facilities, services or regulations for emptying, collecting, transporting and treating faecal sludge.

This has resulted in 90% of sewage remaining untreated. Faecal sludge is dumped indiscriminately into rivers, drains and low-lying areas without any treatment, posing public health and environmental hazards. Urbanisation trends in the region mean the problem is likely to worsen. Faecal sludge management (FSM) is therefore increasingly becoming a necessary and integral part of cities’ sanitation service provision, in order to ensure safely managed sanitation for all by 2030. As governments begin to explore this problem, various initiatives have started to emerge, from national-level policies and frameworks to pilot interventions of decentralised systems.

Taking into consideration the knowledge and capacity gap in addressing this emerging issue, we commissioned a study in South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan) with two main objectives:

  • Understand key elements of the enabling framework for faecal sludge management at country level: policies and regulations; institutional roles and responsibilities; coordination; and equity, inclusion, funding and financial considerations.
  • Understand city-level FSM initiatives: identify best practices; gaps; challenges; and the potential for scale up.

To learn more, scroll to the top left of this page and download:

  • Our brief – FSM landscape in South Asia: a brief overview – gives you a quick snapshot of the study.
  • The main report – FSM landscape in South Asia: synthesis of a multi-country study – covers the enabling framework for FSM in study countries and FSM case studies, along with comparative analysis, key findings, conclusions and policy recommendations.
  • The supplementary report – FSM landscape in South Asia: case studies – covers detailed case studies from four cities.