4-10 August 2019 | KUALA LUMPUR, JAKARTA – UCLG ASPAC, under the “Municipalities Network Policy Advocacy on Sanitation in South Asia” project, conducted a learning visit on sanitation and faecal sludge management for Nepali local government representatives (comprising 10 Mayors and Deputy Mayors) to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Jakarta (Indonesia). The project is implemented in Nepal in partnership with the Municipal Association of Nepal (MuAN), the Environment and Public Health Organisation (ENPHO) as a technical partner. The same UCLG ASPAC project is being implemented in Bangladesh by the Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB) with SNV as its technical partner.

The Nepali delegation, Mayors of all five municipalities where the project is being implemented, discussed about their works with officials and conducted site visits to sanitation land fields, water treatment and faecal sludge treatment plants of DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall), Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) in Malaysia and PD Pal Jaya, Bekasi City Office, UPDT Bekasi, and DKI Jakarta in Indonesia. The following is the sum up benefits of this learning activity as shared by the Nepali delegates:

1. Mr. Ashok Kumar Byanju Shrestha – Mayor of Dhulikhel Municipality (Kavrepalanchowk) and President of MuAN.
“The sewage treatment plant in Kuala Lumpur was very big while the one in my municipality is small. It is at Shrikhandapur Ward which is managed by the community and funded by UNHABITAT, and technically supported by ENPHO (Environment and Public Health Organisation),a Nepal NGO which is also technical partner of the UCLG ASPAC’s project. The current volume of faecal sludge is not sufficient for the existing system. We are trying to convince our neighbouring Paanchkhal and Banepa Municipalities to provide faecal sludge while we will supply biogas in cylinders in return.  In Jakarta, the faecal sludge treatment plant was technically very high sound. Mahalaxmi Municipality (in Nepal) is probably the best we currently have in our country. It is necessary to adopt the technology being practiced during our field visits. UCLG ASPAC is currently providing a model programme but we have to realise that the municipalities also require hardware, not only software. Internally, I think, the knowledge level on faecal sludge management at municipality-level is good. However, there is need to increase the knowledge of people at the government-level.”

2. Ms. Kabita Dhungana – Deputy Mayor of Belkotgadhi Municipality (Nuwakot) and Vice President of MuAN.
“Thank you UCLG ASPAC. There is a popular slogan in Nepal used by many in waste management which means “Waste is Wealth.” After the visit, I got to see how that slogan can come into action… I was more concerned about how the odour of the solid waste was managed so well.”

3. Mr. Bhim Prasad Dhungana – Mayor of Neelkantha Municipality (Dadhing) and General Secretary of MuAN.
“The ‘Municipalities Network Policy Advocacy on Sanitation in South Asia’ project is very nice and way before its time. I do not think an ordinary Nepali understands the outcome this initiative is trying to achieve. In case of my municipality, Neelkantha, we have already prepared a DPR with assistance from AEPC (Alternative Energy Promotion Centre) and preparations are on to develop a request for proposal from interested parties. We aim to raise 60 percent funding from donors while AEPC is providing us the remaining 40 percent. The idea is to convert waste to energy… It was good to learn that we can also develop energy from faecal sludge.”

4. Mr. Lal Kishor Sah – Mayor of Janakpurdham Sub-Metropolitan City (Dhanusha) and Deputy General Secretary of MuAN.
The visit with focus on faecal sludge management and sanitation was very useful. The places we visited not only showed us practically the strengths and opportunities but also challenges and threats. Not many visits are so honest and it was a good experience to learn how such challenges were overcome. During our visit, I was more interested in the conventional model of faecal sludge management. I was wondering if the similar readymade septic tanks like we saw in PD Pal Jaya could be produced by any company back home. My municipality, Janakpurdham, has a huge population and is increasing rapidly. When I go back, I will revisit some of the decisions we have made regarding sanitation to make it more successful.”  

5. Mr. Ghanshyam Pandey – Mayor of Tulsipur Sub-Metropolitan City (Dang) and Treasurer of MuAN.
“I would like to thank UCLG ASPAC. People in growing cities everywhere are facing solid waste management issue with additional problem of air pollution. We have seen conventional, mechanical and manual system of faecal sludge management and it has provided us a great inspiration. Back home, in my municipality, we are developing a small but similar waste management system in collaboration with AEPC (Alternative Energy Promotion Centre). However, we do not have people who are technically sound. The second challenge is also regarding investment. We are eagerly looking for partners. In the next three years, the municipalities should have a similar system using the knowledge we have obtained from the visit. Thirdly, I would suggest building of a sister city relationship between municipalities during the learning visit which would have been very good.”

6.Ms. Hariprabha Khadgi – Deputy Mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (Kathmandu) and Joint Treasurer of MuAN.
“When we talk about Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), we have to think about managing a population of 5000,000. Various plans and policies are being developed in joint collaboration between the central, provincial and local governments… Regarding faecal sludge management, we have a legal provision stating that no building permit is going to be provided unless the building has its own septic tank. Unfortunately, those septic tanks are connected to the sewerage system which ultimately is dumped on rivers. The systems we observed in our learning visit is extremely useful to us. This was a wonderful gift for KMC. I had never seen such a system. When I go back, I also want to focus on faecal sludge management. I am willing to take the initiative to talk with the central government to lobby for such a faecal sludge treatment plant. I will do my best on my behalf.”

7. Mr. Muni Sah Sudi – Mayor of Lahan Municipality (Siraha) [One of pilot cities in Nepal].
“This was a huge learning for Lahan Municipality. I felt that I need to bring into practice everything I have learnt. Even the waste was managed so beautifully. I have learnt a lot and will bring soon into action what I have learnt. I am very motivated after this visit.”

8. Mr. Dilip Pratap Khand – Mayor of Waling Municipality (Syangja) [One of pilot cities in Nepal].
“Thank you UCLG ASPAC. The things we have learnt from this visit can definitely be replicated, at least, on a small scale in our municipality. I have a strong desire to bring into action what I have learnt. This visit gave us an opportunity to not only learn about faecal sludge management but also civilisation, lifestyle and culture of future cities. If we do not act now, our future is going to be dark. In case of my municipality, Waling, we have already selected a place for construction of the faecal sludge treatment plant. We will select the right model after the feasibility study results are out and will proceed either on a people-private-partnership model or will invest on our own from the municipality. Our construction will start soon. We have only around three years tenure left as local representatives and such wonderful initiative should be completed during our tenure itself.”

9. Mr. Kul Bahadur Khatri Chhetri – Mayor of Lamahi Municipality (Dang) [One of pilot cities in Nepal].
“We have to realise that the septic tanks in our municipalities are now being filled. We learnt how to manage such waste, despite such a large volume, in Kuala Lumpur and Bekasi Municipality. As our cities are emerging, this is the best time now to initiate solid waste and faecal sludge management. Back home, we usually hide our septic tanks on the back of our houses. In this visit, I learnt we should encourage building septic tanks on the front of the houses for easier access for desludging. Our belief that we should not shy away from our waste has become firmer after this visit. We also learnt that it is not only the duty of the central government to deal with waste but has to be dealt with in a joint manner. Even regarding faecal sludge treatment plant, we were afraid that the public would accept to build it close to settlements. Now, after our observation, it has become easier to convince the people that there is not going to be bad smell only if the waste is properly treated. I am now going to finalise the land for the faecal sludge treatment plant when I go back to my municipality after this visit. We are definitely going to require more financial support to build our treatment systems. I want my municipality, Lamahi, to be the first to buy land and begin construction among the pilot municipalities under the project.” 

10. Mr. Surendra Bahadur Bist – Mayor of Bheemdatt Municipality (Kanchanpur) [One of pilot cities in Nepal].
“It was observed during the visit that the issue of waste management has been prioritised by the central government itself. Thank you UCLG ASPAC and MuAN for this opportunity. The issue of waste management has been looked as a part of sustainable development and has jointly been addressed with a partnership between the central government and municipalities with a more major role of the central government. The theoretical knowledge obtained was huge. It is now time to go back and deliver in our own work back home. It was good to learn that waste can be managed within the city itself. People always consider that waste management such as faecal sludge management is a smelly business and should be kept away from settlements. The system we saw in Malaysia was very modern while the system in BD PAL was more apt to our environment in the Tarai region (Southern belt of Nepal bordering India). After this visit, I am more committed in my work and learnt the various technologies practiced elsewhere.”