Have your say on faecal sludge management strategy

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Department of Water and Sanitation has invited stakeholders to submit comments on the draft National Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) Strategy framework.

The National Faecal Sludge Management Strategy encourages sustainable sanitation management along the sanitation value chain to prevent health hazards and protect the environment.

It also enhances the operation and maintenance of on-site sanitation systems and prevents groundwater contamination.

The department said that sanitation has an economic value, and South Africa has recognised the need to pursue sanitation resource recovery, recycling and reuse.

“The strategy, therefore, creates a transition from treating sanitation as waste to treating it as a resource and using it to create economic activity and value, as well as job opportunities,” the department said.

On Tuesday, the department held a national stakeholders consultation workshop on Faecal Sludge Management Strategy, where various stakeholders got a chance to make inputs into the draft strategy.

The workshop aimed to obtain inputs on the draft FSM strategy for on-site sanitation systems. It also highlighted the expected impact of safely managed sanitation along the sanitation value chain.

Among the stakeholders who attended the workshop held in Boksburg were higher learning institutions, private sector, government departments affected by faecal sludge, and Non-Governmental Organisations. The stakeholders shared the lessons learned on faecal sludge management.

Professor Alfred Odindo from the University of KwaZulu-Natal opened the session with a presentation on how-to “Transition Towards a Circular Economy in Sanitation”.

Odindo said that, to transition waste to waste resources to create economic opportunities relied on the circular economy [and] this would use resources available in cascading systems, “thus creating multiple values of economic growth, and sustainability the goods of today become the resources for tomorrow”.

“The circular economy replaces the extractive ‘take-make-dispose’ linear system, which is constrained by resource availability, with the 3R approach. Definitions focus on either raw materials or on system changes,” Odindo explained.

The principle of reducing waste, reusing and recycling resources and products is often called the 3Rs.

Odindo also noted that one of the challenges that could impede implementing the strategy, would be a lack of financial capital, a sentiment echoed throughout the workshop.

The workings of the strategy will rely on the four pillars of the sanitation value chain, including capture and containment, emptying and transport, treatment and end-use, and disposal.

The stakeholders identified challenges in each of the pillars, and suggested strategic management solutions.

With capture and containment, it was discovered that technical aspects of on-site sanitation, including design, volume and location, would be a challenge. However, this maybe rectified by installing private household functions.

While discussing the emptying and transporting pillar, the stakeholders noted that more pits are being built, while the existing ones are already full, giving an impression of a lack of planning. 

The meeting suggested that the Water Service Authorities (WSAs) appoint service providers or provide services themselves to clear out pits.

Written submissions on FSM should be submitted to fsmstrategy@dws.gov.za, before 5 December 2022. – SAnews.gov.za