Enabling Business Innovation in Nepal’s Sanitation System

Paper author: 
Anjil Adhikari from Oxfam and Tapas Neupane, Abhishri Agarwal and Karan Chandran from Ennovent
Paper publication date: 
Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Fecal sludge management (‘FSM’) refers to the emptying, transportation, and treatment of fecal sludge from onsite containment systems for safe disposal or reuse. Nepal has made considerable progress in improving water access and sanitation in the last decade. However, there is still an urgent need to manage the fecal sludge stored in containment systems connected to latrines. The unsafe release of such sludge has tremendous adverse effects on the health of the population, and the environment in general.

Given the absence of centrally connected sanitary sewer systems, most households in urban areas of Nepal rely on on-site sanitation facilities. At present, a variety of informal and formal businesses exist in the form of manual or mechanical emptying service providers. However, such businesses operate unsustainably, are not able to provide services to low-income communities, and are not regulated or monitored. Moreover, most cities in Nepal lack proper disposal sites, efficient desludging technologies and sludge treatment centres. In such a scenario, the development of FSM service chains and systems that can safely empty and transport fecal sludge to treatment centres at affordable rates is essential. Municipalities, civil society organisations, and private sectors have to work together to develop innovations in technologies as well as business model that can overcome these challenges and realise the full potential of the critical role they can play in FSM systems.

This piece begins by highlighting the key challenges faced by different stakeholder segments in the FSM space in Nepal, followed by a deep dive into market drivers and a summary suggesting recommendations and next steps. The key challenges and recommendations have been formulated based on a study conducted by Ennovent and Oxfam in 2018 on the market and business opportunities created for the private sector in the FSM service chain across five municipalities of Nepal.