- freely available
Sustainability 2019, 11(12), 3468; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11123468
2. Off-Grid Sanitation with Potential Reuse
3. From National Policy to Peri-Urban Reality: Two Case Studies
3.1. Case 1: District 7, El Alto
3.2. Case 2: Mzinyathi, eThekwini Municipality
4. Challenges and Lessons
4.1. Changing Contexts
4.2. Overlapping Authorities
4.3. Behaviour Change and Adaptation to Local Needs
4.4. Ensuring Functionality and Resource Sustainability
5. Concluding Remarks
- Off-grid sanitation needs a clear division of roles and responsibilities—as well as coordination—between governance institutions, both formal and informal. However politically difficult it may be, informal systems need to be incorporated into the governance arrangements to avoid overlaps—or gaps—between competences and management functions of different actors in a sanitation system. This should be recognized in national policies, as well as municipal-level planning and implementation.
- Decentralized sanitation systems in a peri-urban setting based on UDDTs require investment in safe excreta storage, system maintenance, emptying and recycling services for managing the excreta, as well as in “soft” aspects, such as building ownership of the sanitation system and changing attitudes and behaviors by the users. To enable a sustainable uptake and use of off-grid sanitation, the provision of education has proved to be crucial to support raising awareness and to train users in how to properly operate and manage their new sanitation systems.
- It is important to counter perceptions of decentralized sanitation as a “rural” or “poor man’s” alternative to flush toilets. Successful strategies include ensuring that the systems offered are of high quality and comfortable; offering users a range of toilet products and options; and requiring some financial input from the user to create a sense of ownership. Reliable, efficient, and safe excreta collection services are also essential for ensuring sustained use and the attractiveness of on-site systems in an urban context [7,8]. Engagement of traditional authorities, where they exist, can also avoid conflicting messages about the systems.
- Decentralized sanitation system development needs to be integrated into mainstream urban development, for example in strategic urban planning policies, property regulations, building codes, and municipal services. Given the reality of rapid urbanization in many parts of the world, it is also critically important to determine early on whether off-grid sanitation systems are to be a temporary bridge to centralized systems within a clear timeframe, or a permanent solution for more densely populated peri-urban areas even as they evolve into suburbs.
- From a financial perspective, there are still challenges in highlighting the societal economic benefits of investing in “productive” sanitation systems. Improving the functionality of sanitation and wastewater management results in a large pay-off in terms of reduced expenditures on public health . There is evidence showing that reuse can contribute even more to cost-efficient and long-term waste management, producing benefits in sectors beyond water and sanitation (e.g., energy and agriculture) .
- Scaling up reuse will require innovation, not only on the technical side, but also in governance and finance. Issues linked to the enabling environment for the reuse market needs to be addressed, such as developing new policies, governance models, and financing mechanisms (e.g., adequate regulations, tax incentives, and public-private partnerships) .
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