This paper provides a comparative assessment of community-scale decentralized wastewater treatment systems (DEWATS) in Nepal, based on three communities in urban and peri-urban locations. The analysis provides lessons for sustainable and future replications of this approach, highlighting the benefits, drivers for long-term operation and maintenance, and barriers associated with up-scaling. Nepal is experiencing the fastest rate of urbanization in the South Asian region, while sanitation and wastewater management are emerging as some of the biggest challenges in urban areas. Over 43 per cent of the population still lacks access to a toilet, and virtually all wastewater and septage is discharged into water bodies without treatment. These mounting problems of urban sanitation demand urgent and appropriate solutions. The inherent simplicity of DEWATS provides an effective, affordable, and low-maintenance option for treating wastewater. This is particularly the case for low-income communities.
This paper discusses the notions of ‘improved’ and ‘unimproved’ sanitation in the context of developing countries in urbanizing Africa and considers the role that shared facilities can play in this equation. It analyses current definitions and classifications used by the United Nations Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) to monitor access to shared sanitation and summarizes the recent discourse on JMP's limitations. Empirical evidence from two case studies in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) - Kampala, Uganda and Ashaiman, Ghana - is presented, showing the widespread use and limitations of the shared toilet facilities in these two cities. The empirical evidence shows that quite different types of shared sanitation facilities emerge in different cities, each influenced by the urbanization patterns, local politics and sociocultural considerations. Improving the quality of shared facilities involves the consideration of the applicability of the different types of facilities within the category ‘shared sanitation’, together with an improved understanding of the users' determinants of acceptability, such as access and cleanliness. The paper concludes with a discussion of potential indicators for shared sanitation post-2015 global monitoring, as a means of integrating shared sanitation into the overall sanitation access figures.
Too often, standardized groupings of sanitation and treatment technologies are imposed in situations where they may not be appropriate. The Household-Centred Environmental Sanitation (HCES) approach instead emphasizes that the needs and means of households should be put first, and a collaborative process involving all stakeholders should steer the planning process.