Madrigal, D, 2015 - Situation analysis: Faecal Sludge Management in Costa Rican illegal settlements
My project focused on Faecal Sludge Management (FSM). The research aimed to analyse the FSM situation in informal Costa Rican settlements where a high percentage of the population uses on-site sanitation systems. In order to develop the project, political, economical and institutional desktop research was undertaken, followed by field research in three informal settlements in Costa Rica. The collaboration of settlement dwellers, faecal sludge vacuuming truck drivers and representatives of public institutions was key to develop and finalise the research.
There is a lack of political will reflected through institutional overlaps and an out-of-date legal framework, which despite its potential to enable adequate sanitation, has failed to deliver proper implementation and monitoring. The lack of political will was also reflected in poor budget allocation affecting key areas such as maintenance, public awareness, technical education and investigation of new technologies.
The field research revealed the lack of knowledge of the population about adequate maintenance of on-site sanitation systems leading to environmental and health risks. Finally, the FSM service providers, despite having a key role in the sanitation chain, seem to be disregarded and lack support and encouragement from the government to treat and dispose of sludge adequately.
The project made me aware of an area in my country which has been completely neglected despite its importance. The findings might not be positive, however, they highlight a path for me to follow and to collaborate with the government in order to help improve the FSM situation for the well-being of the population and the health of the environment.
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