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A first for the Philippines: decentralised faecal sludge management (FSM) in Bauang

In the Philippines, one of the fastest growing urban-center countries in Southeast Asia, the majority of houses are served by on-site sanitation systems such as septic tanks and pit latrines. The faecal sludge collected from these systems is typically discharged untreated into the urban environment, posing great risks to water resources and public health.

Decentralised faecal sludge management (FSM) systems can help to meet municipal sanitation needs and reduce environmental pollution. However, FSM systems haven’t been widely implemented in the Philippines due to financial, technical and political complexities. Diverse interests of numerous stakeholders must be addressed and reliable long-term financing must be available. In addition, FSM operation and maintenance (O&M) needs to be ongoing and locally feasible. To ensure that happens, O&M must be embedded in technical, administrative, and institutional frameworks that enable the FSM system to function sustainably over the long term.

Municipal Partnership for Sustainability

To address these complexities at local level, BORDA partner BNS Philippines signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Local Government Unit (LGU) Bauang Municipality in La Union Province. The MOA was a clear manifestation of the partners’ strong commitment to the strict management and supervision of the Bauang FSM system and to BNS-BORDA’s continuous support for the Municipality’s future projects.

This cooperation has the potential to serve as a model approach to tackling sanitation problems across the Philippines, and in the process make a significant contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and realising the New Urban Agenda.

Participatory, Holistic Approach

In line with BNS-BORDA’s fundamental principles, work on the Bauang FSM system takes a demand oriented, bottoms up, multi-stakeholder approach that emphasises participatory, multi-sectoral processes for planning, development and implementation.

The Bauang FSM project, funded by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), has established a septage treatment plant next to the 1590 Energy Corporation power plant. In addition, BNS-BORDA will adapt FSM to FSM+, a concept that covers other sanitation interventions such as Zero Open Defecation (ZOD), decentralised wastewater treatment (DEWATS) plants, sanitation facilities, and health impact evaluations (HIE) in Bauang Municipality and other LGUs.

The Philippines' first FSM implementation - this video takes you to Bauang to show how the community-based FSM system works, what benefits it brings, and who benefits

Starting in Bauang Municipality, BORDA-supported BNS Philippines is implementing a holistic FSM model that includes health impact evaluations and Zero Open Defecation initiatives

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