Differences between on-site sanitation and off-site sanitaton – Zimbabwe

Q I want to ask about the differences between on-site sanitation and off-site sanitaton for Zimbabwe

A Here is a short answer from one of our experts, follwed by selected additional information resources from the IRC  site.

Worldwide, onsite sanitation systems are being promoted widely as they can play a key role in increasing access to improved sanitation. Particularly in rural and peri-urban areas where space availability and population density are not constraining factors on its adoption and where onsite sanitation can be substantially cheaper and easier to promote than sewerage networks.

Sanitation systems can be divided into ‘onsite’ and ‘offsite’ technologies. Onsite sanitation systems aim to contain human excreta at the point of generation (the household level). Onsite sanitation can be classified into two main categories: ‘wet’ which require water for flushing; and ‘dry’ which do not require any water for flushing. This type of infrastructure comprises of (improved) latrines, septic tanks and other household level technologies that do not involve sewerage.

Offsite sanitation systems transport human excreta to another location for treatment, disposal or use. Offsite sanitation can be classified into two main categories: ‘decentralised’ and ‘centralised’. Decentralised systems include systems where groups of two or more houses are linked to a (small bore sewer) network leading to a communal treatment system. Wastewater systems serving one or several communities are termed centralised systems.

Decentralised systems represent an appropriate technological option for urban areas that face problems with high population density but where financing for larger centralised treatment systems is not available.

More info resources

Here is a selection of other info resource on on-site sanitation options that go beyond technology we have on our site:

What is on-site sanitation? A case study of latrines

Faq sheet on on-site sanitation latrines, prepared by CREPA, Burkina Faso

In this 2004 document the concept of on-site sanitation will be described, followed by the description of different types of latrines.  Read more http://www.irc.nl/page/10371

Sanitation partnerships: Harnessing their potential for urban on-site sanitation

Partnership approaches can serve a useful purpose in on-site sanitation. However, collaboration is not easy. The scarcity of existing partnerships for sanitation implies that they are even more difficult to build and to maintain than in other sectors. The diversity that characterises sanitation calls for particular attention to process, careful consideration of context, and strong analysis of the framework within which they can operate.

This 2006 paper is based on studies in five African cities.

Some concrete conclusions are:

* Too little attention is paid to the fact that on-site facilities are typically only one link in a broader chain of waste removal and treatment.

* For the public goods of sanitation to become a reality, public subsidies will be often be needed. These subsidies need to reinforce rather than undermine the private and provider’s goods.

* Manual latrine emptying needs to become a recognised part of broader solutions and the health risks must be mitigated.

* Solid waste offers interesting parallels for on-site sanitation but disaggregated demand remains a key challenge.

* Sludge transfer and disposal are key bottlenecks to delivering a viable sanitation system.

* Partnerships may offer one way of reconciling the links needed, but sanitation offers challenges distinct from either water or solid waste.

BPD Harnessing Sanitation partnerships_BPD.pdf (1.21 MB), free downloadable form http://www.irc.nl/redir/content/download/143704/456922/file/BPD%20Harnessing%20Sanitation%20partnerships_BPD.pdf

Smart sanitation solutions

Smart sanitation solutions is a more pictorial booklet that is freely downloadable from our site:

IRC … [et al.] (2006). Smart sanitation solutions : examples of innovative, low-cost technologies for toilets, collection, transportation, treatment and use of sanitation products. Delft, The Netherlands, Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP). 68 p. : photogr., techn. drwngs

Sanitation, along with clean water and food security, is a primary driver for improving public health. Smart Sanitation Solutions gives examples of low-cost household and community-based sanitation solutions that have proven effective and affordable. It illustrates a range of innovative technologies for toilets, collection, transportation, treatment and use of sanitation products that have already helped thousands of poor families to improve their lives.

Download here: http://www.irc.nl/page/28448.

Answer provided by Dick de Jong and Erik Baetings

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