||Context & Problem Overview - There is a great necessity for improved sanitation practices
in the developing world. Forty percent of the world’s population practice open defecation
or lack adequate sanitation facilities. In urban areas throughout the developing world,
where household and community toilets are available, 2.1 billion people use toilets
connected to septic tanks that are not safely emptied or use other systems that discharge
raw sewage into open drains or surface waters resulting in a greater incidence of
waterborne diseases, poor drinking water quality, and contaminated water sources.
In the Philippines, poor sanitation infrastructure and disease costs the economy $1.94
billion a year. Improved sanitation practices and infrastructure are difficult to
implement and sustain. Public services, treatment systems, and sanitation practices
in the developing world often require sufficient land, capital, and energy resources
that are often scarce. Low cost, sustainable improvements and innovations, as well
as local acceptance and ownership, are necessary to develop and implement alternative
technologies that can help reuse waste, improve water treatment and improve overall
quality of sanitation services.
Researchers at Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International have developed and
tested a secondary waste water treatment filter that can be appended to existing decentralized
waste water treatment systems (DEWATS) and collection facilities. Using a cocopeat
filter, the discarded dust and coir generated from coconut processing plants, an effective
bio-filter unit can be constructed. This simple device can easily be connected to
existing septic tanks or other primary treatment components to filter effluent waste
water and meet national discharge standards. This filtration technology has the potential
to improve health and positively impact sanitation services for urban poor communities.
Although successful pilot programs have been launched through grant funding and self-financing,
RTI would like to explore alternative implementation models to deliver this technology
to a larger audience in the Philippines.
Policy Question - What implementation models could RTI International consider for
scaling up cocopeat bio-filtration systems to improve access to safe water and sanitation
in urban poor areas of the Philippines?
Data and Methodology - To assess and recommend potential implementation model options
the following data and methodology was used: 1) Sanitation Sector Landscape Analysis
– I conducted a literature review of the Philippines sanitation sector to assess the
most significant institutional factors related to implementing DEWATS projects. 2)
Case Study Analysis – I collected and reviewed relevant case studies related to DEWATS
projects implemented in urban Philippines locations to determine key lessons learned,
potential implementation models, and project financing structures. 3) Integrated Financial
and Economic Analysis – From the financial and economic data collected in the case
studies, I analyzed cocopeat filter technology system costs with comparable secondary
treatment systems. Additionally, I analyzed potential cost distributions of a cocopeat
filter system using four different implementation models.
Findings - 1) Cocopeat filter technology is a proven low cost, sustainable, and effective
alternative to other secondary waste water treatment technology options with comparable
efficiency. 2) The Community Participation model shows the most potential for mitigating
institutional risks and constraints within the sanitation sector. 3) Efficient DEWATS
implementation using a cocopeat filter has the potential to improve benefit to cost
ratios (BCRs), reduce cost burdens on direct users, and introduce sanitation treatment
systems to urban areas where space constraints are a key limiting factor.
Recommendations - RTI could pursue Community Participation models for implementing
cocopeat filter DEWATS projects with support from local government units (LGUs) and
NGOs. This model shows the most promise for mitigating institutional risks, promoting
awareness of sanitation benefits, driving ownership by end users, and enabling technology
adoption. Given that technical implementation, social marketing, and sanitation training
expertise resides predominantly with NGOs, RTI should also continue to promote the
benefits of cocopeat filter technology through these subject matter experts.