This is an investigation of fecal sludge removal, collection, and disposal in peri-urban areas of Bolivia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras (all countries where sanitary sewerage coverage is below the regional average). Based on surveys and focus groups among users, surveys and interviews with operators, and interviews with strategic stakeholders, the author describes the existing institutional structures and markets for sludge collection services in these places and recommends ways they can be improved.
- Inadequate legal norms and regulations in the sanitation sector make it difficult to adopt mass solutions to improve sanitation; restrict access to commercial credit; and may result in marketing of contaminated products, hazards for sludge collection workers, and septic tanks with short lifespans because they are not up to technical standards.
- Local governments in the case study cities did not take an active role in managing on-site sanitation services. There is potential for them to become more involved by promoting on-site hygiene, providing technical assistance, and balancing supply and demand.
- Two of the countries studied subsidized tariffs for sewerage services. The report stresses the need for subsidies for the sector, which could take the form of revolving funds for concession capital, results-based subsidies, or a plan where the governments covers costs for sludge collection in excess of a predetermined cap.
- More research should be done on condominium networks that discharge into multifamily septic tanks. This approach could be implemented with easy access for maintenance, cleaning and collection, and would reduce per household costs.
- Education efforts should be used to increase public knowledge of sewage and greywater management as well as operator training in environmental management, occupational safety, and cost analysis.