Pilot Project in Senegal Familiarizes Rural Communities with Faecal Sludge Management

Date: 21st August 2017

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Story Highlights:

  • Faecal Sludge management refers to the removal, treatment, or disposal of faecal waste from sanitation installations. It is a crucial process to maintain Open Defecation Free status (ODF)
  • WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) supported programme in Senegal is working in two rural communes to sensitize the population and ensure that a safe and healthy faecal waste management system is put in place

In Senegal, since 2010, nearly half a million people have been enabled to live in Open Defecation Free (ODF) communities thanks to the work of WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) supported programme..

In the region of Matam, some 450 kilometres inland from the coastal capital of Dakar, success has been remarkable:  the Matam commune is the only district that has met and sustained ODF status from the programme’s target areas over a period of three years. This is largely due to Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), behaviour change and social marketing initiatives.

Many rural communities in the region now face the challenge of safely managing the faecal waste they are capturing successfully. The benefits of living open defecation free can be negated by unofficial dumping of waste in or near water sources that are used for household, commercial or other purposes. Good faecal sludge management is thus part of WSSCC’s new strategy and specific objective to ensure ‘Safe sanitation and hygiene access and use for everyone, everywhere’.

Through implementing partner AGETIP and its sub grantee, NGO Sahel 3000, GSF is supporting a pilot project in the communes of Matam and Ourroussougi to provide structured services for faecal sludge management for some 30,000 people.

“Faecal sludge management in rural areas was almost absent in Senegal,” says Adama Sy Dogue, Programme Manager at AGETIP. “When developing the first proposal in 2009, the Programme Coordinating Mechanism [for the GSF in Senegal] expressed its interest in developing a pilot project.”

Developing local expertise

The first step was to survey the existing waste management structures and gather data on latrine types and emptying techniques, as well as informal dumping practices and locations.

A toilet installation in Matam, SENEGAL ©WSSCC/Ailsa Jones

The ‘vidangeur’ or sludge handler profession holds stigma is some countries and contexts, yet early results from the pilot-project has found that in Matam they are more accepted in the local community than expected. The ‘vidangeurs’ are often ex-plumbers and have a good standing in the community.

Training and capacity building has been given to them by the implementing partner with sensitization work on faecal sludge management.

Work has also been carried out with communities, by raising awareness at household level on the importance of pit emptying and local officials and leaders have been targeted for sanitation sensitization.

In the future, the project intends to develop techniques which turn the waste into a resource, such as composting and biogas to improve the agricultural yield of rural households.

Ms Sy Dogue says that while there is still a high demand for manual sludge handling, it is important to work towards a semi-mechanization of sludge handling to be in conformity with new Senegalese laws on drainage.

She also adds that the positive preliminary results in Matam and the strong community awareness will facilitate plans from the National Office for Sanitation in Senegal (ONAS), for rural waste water and faecal sludge management sites in ten cities.

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