The challenge of servicing on-site sanitation in dense urban areas: Experiences from a pilot project in Dhaka
The Millennium Development Goals advocate the need for increased coverage of improved sanitation, but they omit to recognize the importance of latrine maintenance to uphold sanitary conditions. This paper describes a pilot initiative in Bangladesh to improve the traditional method of manual desludging of leach pits and septic tanks. Dushtha Shasthya Kendra (DSK), an NGO based in Dhaka, operates a motorized desludging system to remove the waste from on-site sanitation. Although DSK has found there to be a considerable demand for this service from households, institutions and commercial properties, it is only recently that income covers operational and maintenance costs. However, this is not sufficient to repay capital investments, which limits the capacity of DSK to scale up the operation or other NGOs to replicate the service in other areas. In addition, the problem of sludge disposal has only been partially solved, which highlights the need to develop a citywide strategy for faecal sludge management incorporating transfer stations and off-site treatment.