In Solidarités International (SI), our activities put us in the front line to witness that disposing of faecal sludge is a significant problem in humanitarian contexts.
As Alberto Acquistapace, SI WaSH advisor, describes:
“Sludge management has a direct, immediate impact on the health of populations affected by a crisis, especially when large numbers of people live in excessively crowded conditions, for example in camps for displaced persons”.
We notice that improper decisions are often made for faecal sludge management (FSM) in emergency contexts. A change of paradigm is needed in humanitarian responses, as highlighted again by Alberto:
“For many years, everyone thought that containing faecal matter was quite enough, because humanitarian crises were shorter than they are today. Times have changed, and crises go on for longer. It is now widely accepted that containment is not an appropriate solution anymore.”
At Solidarités, we have decided to take action and have created the OCTOPUS (Operational Collaborative Tool of Ongoing Practices in Urgent Sanitation) platform, an online tool allowing sharing practices and experiences on faecal sludge management that come directly from the field. On the platform, practitioners can document their experience, compare technologies and discuss sanitation solutions adapted to different crisis’ contexts.
So far, the initiative has received positive feedback, with 92% of the respondents from a user-based survey considering that it is a relevant tool to improve practices in FSM. Moreover, we also continuously receive positive feedback from WASH sector partners. Even I wished this platform existed when I was manager of SI faecal sludge treatment plant for the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. I would have been able to exchange with other practitioners and draw solutions from their experience, to solve common problems; it would have saved time and errors. I really believe the platform can support practitioners and improve the sector response on FSM.
Thanks to a strong partnership with the Global WASH Cluster, we wish to make the OCTOPUS platform a reference tool for the WASH sector in FSM activities.
As Aude Lazzarini, head of SI WASH division, says:
“What we are trying to do with the OCTOPUS is to improve the quality of humanitarian WASH responses!”
Join the Octopus community on https://octopus.solidarites.org!
Photo Credit: Solidarites International
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