Wastewater management in urban areas in Indonesia: SNV Indonesia’s key finding and recommendations


It is estimated that 95% of the human waste in Indonesia ends up untreated in waterways or marginal land, contaminating the living environment.

Indonesia has a total estimated population of 253 million people, of which 52% live in urban areas. Overall access to improved sanitation in Indonesia has increased remarkably: from 35% to 59% over the past 25 years, while access to improved sanitation in urban areas is estimated to be at 71%. Despite the remarkable progress, these figures obscure the fact that the vast majority of urban sanitation management systems do not ensure safe separation of human waste from human contact. It is estimated that 95% of the human waste in Indonesia ends up untreated in waterways or marginal land, contaminating the living environment (WSP, 2013). Poor sanitation conditions are reflected in health conditions and economic development. Incidence of diarrhoea and typhoid in Indonesia are disproportionally high compared to other middle-income countries in the region (WSP, 2013). Children exposed to feces are unable to properly absorb nutrients from food; 42% of children under five are stunted (UNICEF, 2014). In 2006, WSP estimated that poor sanitation costs Indonesia 2.3% of its GDP. As the urbanisation trend is likely to increase in the future, the sanitation challenge in Indonesia becomes even more critical. Through its Urban Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All programme (SSH4A), SNV is supporting the Local Governments of four districts in the provinces of West Sumatra and Lampung to implement their “Accelerated Sanitation Development in Human Settlements” (Percepatan Pembangunan Sanitasi Permukiman, or PPSP) strategy. The main goals of SNV’s programme are to improve populations’ awareness of sanitation issues, to increase safe containment of human waste (installation or upgrade of septic tanks) and its safe emptying, treatment and disposal. The programme also intends to explore possibilities for re-use of human waste. In the context of this programme, SNV conducted an analysis to understand the key challenges in the implementation of the legal and institutional framework for on-site wastewater management systems due to its far greater prominence in Indonesia compared to other types of systems. Policies and regulations related to the different stages of the sanitation chain, were identified as well as the major bottlenecks for their implementation. Potential solutions to overcome these are also provided. Key findings include: -The incorporation of technical standards for installation, maintenance and use of toilets and septic tanks is insufficient. -The desludging of septic tanks are not performed at required frequency and inadequate monitoring of the incidence of septic tanks and septic tank desludging activities. -Illegal dumping of sludge by households and desludging service providers occurs. -The monitoring of sludge and bio-solid effluent quality discharged back into the environment by IPLTs is ineffective. -The formal strategic planning for wastewater management at the Local Government level is insufficient. Based on the findings, a set of recommendations is also proposed, as follows: -Strengthen the role and function of District Government agencies in implementing community awareness-raising campaigns that include proper standards and maintenance of septic tanks -Strengthen monitoring of septic tank types, condition and desludging frequency -Strengthen reporting requirements of private sector desludging agencies within contractual agreements -Enforce existing technical standards for operation & maintenance and quality control of effluents at the IPLT level -Raise awareness and build capacity in wastewater policy development at District and Provincial Level -To help drive improvements in sanitation and hygiene in Indonesia, SNV Indonesia has implemented the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All programme (SSH4A). The goal of the programmes is improved health and quality of life of men and women through access to sustainable and environmentally safe sanitation and improved hygiene practices. Those without access to safe water and improved sanitation are often the poorest and the most marginalised groups of society. At SNV we strive for access to sustainable basic services for all.