Critical gaps and ways forward: SNV at FSM 3


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Faecal sludge management is increasingly a key sanitation issue in Lao PDR, as sanitation coverage has been steadily increasing and 70% of people now use some form of toilets throughout the country. However, a majority of these toilets will need emptying once they become full.

The WASH team in Lao PDR have conducted an assessment of existing FSM services, policies and guidelines, and surveyed 1,100 households in 25 villages in three rural districts of Savannakhet Province. In January 2015, WASH sector leader Aftab Opel and WASH advisor Phetmany Cheuasongkham from SNV Lao PDR presented at the 3rd International Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) Conference, held in Hanoi, Vietnam. The WASH team’s presentation was entitled “FSM Services in Laos: Critical Gaps and Important Ways Forward.” They reported on the findings of SNV’s assessment of the FSM situation in rural Lao PDR. 

76% of households surveyed had toilets that were constructed during the last five years, the majority financed by the households themselves, which have not yet needed emptying. However, among those which needed emptying (13%), the average cost was US$50 - close to the cost of the sub-structure of a toilet itself. Some households that were unable to afford this cost have already gone back to open defecation. In the absence of any treatment or safe dumping facility, all the emptied sludge is disposed of in the open environment, which creates health risks. A majority of users reported not knowing about disposal or being aware of the health hazards of this disposal method. It is therefore crucial to identify and develop socially and culturally acceptable FSM resource recovery options to create revenue, which can be used to reduce the direct cost to households of pit emptying. 

This year’s FSM3 Conference was organised in partnership by ADB, EWAG, BMGF, UNESCO-IHE, IWA, WSP, and other international organisations, and attended by over 600 participants and 160 speakers from 110 organisations and universities worldwide. Watch the SNV presentation on the official FSM3 video below, starting at the 5:45 minute mark.