Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday, October 10, strengthening the collaboration to improve fecal sludge management. DNCC Chief Waste Management Officer SM. Shariful Islam and DWASA Chief Engineer Md. Kamrul Hasan signed the MoU in the presence of DNCC Mayor Md. Atiqul Islam, Managing Director of DWASA Eng. Taqsem A. Khan, and Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Md. Tazul Islam and special guests from UNICEF and Asian Development Bank.

Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is currently the 9th largest city in the world with a population of 20 million. The rapid growth of the population in Dhaka poses a significant challenge for the city authorities in ensuring the livability and quality of life for its residents. The United Nations predicts that by 2030, Dhaka will have 28 million residents, making it the fourth-largest city by population. The high concentration of people living in slum areas only adds to the challenge of providing adequate services and facilities to improve the quality of life for all residents.

The sanitation problem in Dhaka is multifaceted and complex. The city’s sewerage network is inadequate to serve the large population, with complex urban land use and hard-to-reach areas being the main obstacles to achieving 100% coverage. The lack of proper treatment plants and the dumping of untreated sewage into waterways and the ground are also major concerns. The mayor of the Dhaka North City Corporation acknowledges that there are gaps in the systems and implementation, but also emphasizes that citizens have a duty to ensure that they are not actively polluting their environment.

UNICEF Bangladesh facilitates Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to improve on-site sanitation in the city. The joint efforts aim to encourage building owners to install prefabricated wastewater treatment plants or improve their existing septic tanks. A successful ‘Sanitation Fair’ event was organized on March 9 and 10, 2023, showcasing various technologies and models of on-site wastewater treatment plants for residential and commercial buildings. Read more here.

The efforts also encourage building owners to perform maintenance of existing septic tanks by periodically emptying or removing the liquid and solid portion contained in the tank. The Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) mandates emptying of septic tanks to be performed every six months or annually. The Global Water & Sanitation Center (GWSC) has been part of the process, providing expertise in on-site sanitation treatments and scheduled desludging. A series of focused discussions on scheduling methods, fleet management, capital and operational costs, and the roles of authorities in monitoring the execution of the scheduled desludging was organized on July 22 and 23, 2023 involving DNCC and DWASA. Read more here.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between DNCC and DWASA is a significant step towards institutionalizing the management of fecal sludge in Dhaka. The existing wastewater treatment in Dasherkandi and several other locations, active participation of private septic tanks emptying service providers, strong governance, and willingness to collaborate are all positive measures towards realizing a green, clean and smart Dhaka.

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