CBS Updates: Increasing Financial Flows for Urban Sanitation

  • EkoLakay Staff collect containers from sanitation service

The world is not on track to reach Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on Water and Sanitation (WASH) by the deadline set for 2030, according to a new UN report.

Some estimates show that achieving the SDG goals for safely managed water and sanitation is going to require three times the level of financing currently going towards the sector. These investment needs are most critical in rapidly growing urban areas and in countries with high poverty levels and currently low water and sanitation coverage.

We are deeply aware of this reality in Haiti, where it is estimated that 66% of urban residents are denied access to improved sanitation facilities and less than 1% of human waste is safely treated. This lack of access to sanitation has resulted in a major public health crisis resulting in the highest incidence of childhood diarrhea in the world and one of the largest and most virulent cholera epidemics in recent global history.

SOIL is combatting this crisis on the ground in Haiti by providing a sanitation service specifically designed for dense urban communities, and by treating 100% of the wastes. SOIL’s full-cycle approach to sanitation services is currently the only example in northern Haiti of a service that meets the standards set by the Sustainable Development Goals, which require safe management of the entire sanitation value chain. However, we recognize the need to do more to catalyze the large-scale change needed to truly address the global sanitation crisis.

A Reason for Hope

The urgency of the growing sanitation crisis has driven incredible technological innovation in the sector over the past decade, and a March 2018 report from the World Water Council: Increasing Financial Flows for Urban Sanitation lays out an optimistic vision for a successful sanitation service scale up in urban areas. The report maps out how innovative new technologies and services, designed with resource recovery in mind, are helping reach vulnerable urban communities previously underserved by traditional systems and they’re reducing capital and operational expenses of service provision along the way.

Five Key Takeaways

  1. By 2030, “urban sanitation will be a service sector not an infrastructure sector”. Sanitation interventions have historically focused on large capital projects which too often fall into disrepair due to a lack of planning for ongoing service and maintenance. In recent years, innovation in the sector has brought new solutions all along the sanitation value chain and a new focus on the householders as customers, transitioning sanitation away from larger infrastructure projects towards customer-focused services.
  2. Sanitation is moving away from the linear model of containment, collection, and dumping waste byproducts to a circular economy model of reusing resources and generating useful products from waste such as gas and biomass fuel, animal feed, and compost.
  3. Sewered sanitation, onsite sanitation services such as septic tank and pit latrines and container-based sanitation (CBS) technologies (like SOIL’s EkoLakay toilets) will exist alongside each other, each reaching different segments of the urban population to achieve city-wide sanitation coverage.
  4. Innovative finance can play a significant role in reducing the cost of sanitation service provision by investing in efforts to increase the revenues of innovative sanitation enterprises through tariffs and cross-subsidization and by supporting or incentivizing efforts to further decrease service costs.
  5. The roles of governments, municipalities, private sector, and civil society will reflect the strengths of each. Governments and municipalities have a critical role to play in creating an enabling environment for sanitation service providers, coordinating service delivery between operators, and supporting the financing of sanitation and waste treatment services.

What This Means for SOIL

At SOIL we’re proud to be designing and testing new technologies and service models to reduce the costs of providing dignified urban household sanitation services that are being replicated globally, and we are striving to develop a strong and effective collaboration with the Haitian government, innovative foundations and donors, and other service providers to ensure our service supports a larger network of sanitation options designed to achieve city-wide coverage. We’re also looking forward to testing innovative financial mechanisms to incentivize further cost reduction, expansion, and active public sector engagement.

It’s not an easy path to be taking in one of the world’s most challenging contexts, but we feel it’s a critical one in order to meaningfully address the immense need for safe sanitation services in Haiti. And thankfully, reading reports like this one from the World Water Council and learning more about the other efforts being made globally, give us new information and inspiration to move forward.

As they say in Haiti, ansamn nou rive pi lwen, together we go far.

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