Operation and maintenance

O&M is of high importance for sustainable implementation of sanitation systems. Based on the existing installations current O&M practises shall be analysed and optimized. The incorporation of private businesses as sanitation service providers and the barriers towards this are analysed by the means of e.g. business plans. On a practical basis, these issues are tackled in cooperation with the solid waste collectors and the composting association in Arba Minch. The experiences of daily work are the basis for analyses and improvements of their services as practical examples for other communities. Further, the operation of the sludge drying bed is in the focus of O&M research. Beside the work in Arba Minch, O&M research is also carried out for Ouagadougou since comparable facitlies are in operation there (composting, urine conditioning... pictures below).

In Arba Minch, both involved private associations SWCA (waste collectors) as well as ENM (compost producers) were to 85% dependent on CLARA money by the end of the project. However, the solid waste collectors association used the financial and know-how support to develop a sustainable business. Even if their cashflow was negative during the project, it is expected that SWCA is well prepared to run their businesses on a sustainable basis. The compost production association's business development is accompanied by internal organisational problems, which whave been solved with support from Arba Minch municipality.

In order to answer the research question "How can sanitation services in Arba Minch be managed profitable and sustainable?" the following conclusions can be drawn:

  • O&M services for on-site sanitation and solid waste collection in Arba Minch are ensured by small and micro enterprises, which are facing various difficulties to guarantee their balanced operation. Thus Arba Minch municipality has to take over the responsibility and has to strengthen organisations dealing with sanitation. Only if the private sector and the municipality are working hand in hand, the situation can improve in the long run. Public-private-partnership can serve as model for future development in the sanitation sector in Arba Minch.
  • The acceptance of UDDTs depends u. a. on the availability of an O&M service. Many UDDT users prefer a collection service and are willing to pay for the service offered.
  • The sanitation supply chain in Arba Minch is offered by two service providers, who are fully dependent from each other. If one of the activities stops operation, the whole supply chain is not functioning any more. Thus, for a sustainable operation it is of utmost importance, that the service providers are able to run their businesses independently.
  • Sanitation services offered by SMEs are able to run at a profit, if different services are combined, the municipality subsidises the activity and fees are increasing. Policymakers could act on the collection fees and can support the diversification of the activities. For solid waste collectors, urine and faeces collection can be a profitable extra income as they have already the necessary infrastructure and extra investments are low. The compost producer's main difficulty is the development of a compost market, from which they are extremely dependent.
  • Diversification of services and activities seems to be the solution to raise revenues and to reduce risks. That means for SWCA, that they still have income from solid waste collection if urine and faeces collection comes to a standstill. In the case of ENM it implies that the sale of seedlings and trees ensure income, if there is no or a limited market for compost.
  • Sanitation marketing is key in order to increase the demand for sustainable sanitation systems among Arba Minch's population. But also to increase the request for sanitation products like compost or for hardware like toilets.
  • For a sustainable development in the sanitation sector a interdisciplinary dialog among various stakeholders active in the sanitation sector is necessary. Working hand in hand for a common goal can increase the efficiency dramatically.

The full final report on operation and maintenance and financing can be downloaded here.