FSM Convention explores new horizon in development

Bangladesh Faecal Sludge Management Network (FSM Network) organised ‘FSM Convention 2016’ to share, learn and highlight national work and progress on faecal sludge management (FSM). The daylong conference took place today at the city’s LGED Auditorium of LGED Bhaban, with the aim of ensuring a safe and sustainable faecal sludge management system in Bangladesh for improved public health and living environment for all by 2030.

A S M Mahbubul Alam, Director General and Additional Secretary (Monitoring, Inspection & Evaluation Wing), Local Government Division, was present as the chief guest while Mrs. 1-fsm-convention-2016Martine van Hoogstraten, Deputy Head of Mission, Head of Economic Affairs and Development Cooperation, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangladesh, spoke as the special guest in the inaugural session of the event. Both the chief guest and special guest spoke of the potential of FSM to transform Bangladesh’s sanitation and health landscape, with Mr. Mahbubul Alam adding that, “FSM needs to be incorporated in the government planning processes at the town and city levels, along with support solutions in the rural context.”

In the conference, speakers including Professor M Ashraf Ali, Director, ITN-BUET and Professor Mujibur Rahman, BUET, noted that Bangladesh has achieved the remarkable feat of near-elimination of open defecation. However, the rapid increase in on-site sanitation leads to the risk of massive environmental pollution from unsafe emptying and dumping of faecal waste. They strongly spoke for the pressing need to develop proper FSM systems that will enable containment, emptying, transport, treatment and disposal.

The conference discussed FSM from institutional and regulatory angles, technical advancements and pilot initiatives, and the way forward. Sessions were moderated by members of the Network, including Hasin Jahan, Country Director, Practical Action Bangladesh;  Abdus Shaheen, Country Programme Manager, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP); Tanvir Choudhury, Business Advisor, SNV Netherlands Development Organization and Dr Md Khairul Islam, Country Director of WaterAid Bangladesh. Md. Wali Ullah, Chief Engineer, Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) closed the event with the recommendation of different stakeholders to come together and take up FSM as a burning agenda, saying “Unless we take faecal sludge management seriously, we risk losing the enormous gains made from past improvements in sanitation.”