Human sludge management lack foils sanitation success

Experts at a dissemination workshop here recently presumed inadequate human sludge management system in Bangladesh would undermine the success of open defecation reduction, which was possible due to significant investment for improving sanitation during past two decades.

They said maximum human sludge is being plunged into water without safe emptying, transportation, dumping, treatment and disposal mechanism in the country that might pose threat for national health security.

2WaterAid Bangladesh, Practical Action Bangladesh and ITN-BUET jointly organized the workshop and dialogue titled “Faecal Sludge Management” at ITN-BUET Seminar Room.

Researchers, professionals, City Corporations’ and WASA officials and activists took part at the dialogue on three action research projects on Faecal Sludge Management.

Bangladesh had reduced the open defecation significantly to 4.4 percent in 2010 from 43 percent in 2003 that is a remarkable achievement, notably much better than other South Asian countries.

The research project was conducted by WaterAid Bangladesh jointly with Practical Action Bangladesh and Faridpur Municipality at Faridpur to find sludge management solutions for rural and small town areas of Bangladesh. Interestingly the research findings show that Faecal Sludge Management is doable, effective and affordable for high to low-income people without   affecting the existing toilet technology.

The experts opined human waste materials can easily be co-composted to form a safe and stable soil conditioner for use in agriculture, which has also potentiality to generate revenue from sale of compost and provision of a sludge removal service.

Dr Md Khairul Islam, Country Representative of WaterAid Bangladesh, said one of the Millennium Development Goals of Bangladesh was to provide sanitation for 100 percent population by 2015.

“Although significant improvement has been occurred, it will be a challenge for the government to keep the achievement in track without ensuring safe management of human sludge,” he added.

Islam expected the outcome of the research makes an innovative contribution to knowledge around sludge management and tackles the situation of urban or peri-urban areas with high development density and little physical space for technologies.

Dr. M. Feroze Ahmed, Vice Chancellor, Stamford University, Dhaka, Dr. Md. Mujibur rahman, Professor of Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering Division, BUET, Sara Ahrari, Senior Program Officer, SIMAVI, Mr. Rajeev Munankami, SNV, Dr. Celia Way, Senior Consultant, BuroHappold Ltd., UK were present in the workshop.