Newsletter and Technical Publications
<International Source Book On Environmentally Sound Technologies
for Wastewater and Stormwater Management>
8.4 Social and institutional factors
Social and institutional factors are most important in the delivery of any
service including wastewater and stormwater services. These factors include the
processes adopted by a community, region or country to plan, finance and
implement the provision of sanitation services. Each community has developed
their processes, and these may have been developed over a long period. The
importance of involving the community in decision making to introduce wastewater
and stormwater management has been reiterated as being important to ensure long
term sustainability of the system.
Difficulty can be encountered with new communities developing in the fringes
of large cities, where there may not have been the tradition of community
decision making. The involvement of a community-based or non-government
organisation may assist. Financing and cost recovery are important
considerations for these communities, which generally are resource poor.
The management of ablution facilities illustrates the importance of ownership
or sense of ownership. A private ablution facility is generally better
maintained than a communal ablution facility. Hygiene maintenance of a private
facility is usually the responsibility of a person in the household. This is
usually the housewife, who cleans the facility or arranges its regular cleaning
and also ensures that members of the household play their part. A communal
hygiene facility can suffer from a lack of unclear responsibility for cleaning
the facility or from abuse by irresponsible members of the community.
Requiring payment for use of a communal or public ablution facility, with an
attendant for collection of payment and responsible for cleaning, appears to be
a good model (Sulabh, India).
|Sulabh International Social Service Organisation
Salabh Shauchalaya Complex is a system of operating and maintaining
community toilets with bathing, laundry and urinal facilities with
attendant’s service round the clock. It is a pay-and-use system with
people’s participation without any burden on public exchequer or local
authorities. Sulabh complexes have been welcomed both by the people and
the authorities due to their cleanliness and good management.
These complexes have electricity and 24 hours water supply and soap
powder is supplied free to users for washing hands. The complexes have
separate enclosures for men and women. The users are charged nominal sum
for using Shauchalayas and baths.
There is an emerging trend for governments to privatise provision of
wastewater and stormwater services. The private sector has developed
considerable expertise in providing wastewater and stormwater services. These
services range from developing master plans, community consultation, design,
construction, operation & maintenance of collection, treatment and disposal
facilities, to training of personnel. It is not clear whether the private sector
achieves greater management efficiency when compared to a well operated
government agency. The latter may not, however, operate in a particular
locality, and capacity building within the government sector is required.
Government's responsibility remains in providing policy direction, providing
overall planning framework, and ensuring that public health and environmental
objectives are achieved. Governments should use the private sector expertise to
supplement specialist waste disposal areas while still keeping control. Hygiene
promotion should remain a high priority for governments, irrespective of public
or private provision of services.
Communities with low incomes/resources require special attention with respect
to achieving the wider public health and environmental objectives. The case of
providing funding for wastewater and stormwater services is compelling from the
overall public health and environmental benefits outside these communities.