Faecal Sludge and SeptageIn 2010, the U.N. formally recognized the human right to clean water and sanitation as crucial to survival, but this recognition only ensures that countries do their best to provide clean water to communities with the resources available. And in some cases, the resources are extremely limited. Although there are strategies being developed to improve these issues, the newly published book “Faecal Sludge and Septage Treatment: A Guide for Low and Middle Income Countries” by Kevin Taylor may be beneficial.

What is Faecal Sludge and Septage?

In order to understand how to help low and middle countries discard waste, it must first be explicitly stated what this waste is and how hazardous it is to the environment. Fecal sludge and septage are the two most abundant and environmentally damaging types of waste excreted by the entire global population. Fecal sludge refers to the excess solids and slurry from the storage of blackwater or excreta. Septage refers to the liquid and solid material pumped from a septage tank or cesspool, containing urine and feces.

When unregulated, fecal sludge and septage are key contributors to environmental pollution. In primarily agricultural societies, such as those in low and middle-income countries, the treatment of sludge is unhygienic because there is no access to proper ways of disposal. Across the globe today, 4.5 billion people lack access to safely managed disposal services of waste. The effects of improper sanitation facilities have extremely harmful impacts on not only the environment but also overall human health.

How Does This Book Help?

Taylor worked alongside the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to publish the book in order to make it unique from other published books on waste treatment.

This book, in particular, focuses on how to build affordable sanitation facilities for low-income countries, whereas other guides are aimed at building more expensive technologies with resources unavailable to low and middle-income countries. Improper disposal of fecal waste can be life-threatening when it affects water content, and lower income countries often do not have the resources available to prevent contamination.

The overall goal of the book is to break down the process of the sanitation of fecal sludge septage for lower income countries with expanding cities and towns. As a result, the guide is flexible to many different environments and resources. The aim of Taylor, GWSP and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is not only to reverse the damages to health and the environment as a result of improper treatments of waste, but also to stop these problems before they start.

According to, the top three countries with the lowest access to sanitation facilities are South Sudan with 16 percent of its population having access to improved sanitation facilities, Madagascar with 18 percent and the Republic of Congo with 20 percent. Access to clean water and sanitation is recognized as a human right, though not legally. “Faecal Sludge and Septage Treatment: A Guide for Low and Middle Income Countries” is being published with the goal of helping these countries claim this right because they need help. The book will launch at Stockholm World Water Week on Wednesday, August 29, 2019.

– Sara Devoe
Photo: Pixabay