A new research by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says Africa records 115 deaths per hour from excreta-related diseases.
It attributed this majorly to poor fecal sludge management.
According to the research paper, Faecal sludge management in Africa: Socio-economic aspects, human and environmental health implications, It said this also contributes to huge economic losses: on the continent adding that poor sanitation leads to losses of approximately 1 to 2.5 percent of a country’s GDP.
” As population growth skyrockets – the continent’s urban population is projected to triple by mid-century – so too does the volume of fecal sludge and wastewater.
“Across West African cities, one person produces between 20-150 litres of wastewater per day. Considering an average daily generation of 1 litre of fecal sludge per person, a city of 1 million inhabitants will need to collect 1000 m3 every day.
“The scale and threat of poor fecal sludge management can be turned on its head if we look at the government and business opportunities that can galvanise real change in health and livelihoods in marginalized communities in countries struggling with poor sanitation,” says Dr. Habib El-Habr, Coordinator of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA) at UNEP.
The report recommends technical innovations for improving the capture, emptying and treatment of sludge, highlighting good practices,
It stressed that treatment plans can generate revenue for countries and especially for poor communities, converting fecal sludge to compost or biochar for use as fertilizer, or converting to briquettes as fuel for industry.
The research states that fecal sludge management is however, hindered by factors, including population growth and urbanization; over-reliance on financial aid for construction of treatment plants; low revenue generation from users of treatment facilities; poor operation and maintenance, and inefficient institutional arrangements for fecal sludge management.
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To this end, both organizations call for better coordination of the roles and responsibilities of diverse actors involved in the processes.
The report’s authors stress the need to invest in sanitation systems and mechanisms to improve fecal sludge management, as well as direct investments – especially to poor households – in order to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.