Johannesburg, South Africa, became the epicenter of discussions on non-sewered sanitation solutions during the ‘IWA Specialist Group Conference on Non-Sewered Sanitation’ from 15 to 18 October 2023. Under the theme ‘Stimulating Innovative Solutions and Uptake for People Not Connected to Sewers,’ the event gathered a diverse array of 400 delegates from around the world.

The conference served as a catalyst for pioneering dialogues, welcoming innovators, scientists, researchers, and industry experts keen on revolutionizing off-grid sanitation solutions. ITN-BUET was one of the participating entities, making significant contributions across various segments of the conference.

Director of ITN-BUET, Prof. Dr. Tanvir Ahmed, joined in expert panel discussions, workshops, and presentations, amplifying Bangladesh’s role in implementing water-wise principles and fostering regional sanitation security.

Dr. Ahmed highlighted Bangladesh’s strides in aligning policies and plans with IWA’s 17 Water-wise principles, emphasizing the government’s initiatives, including the Delta Plan 2100 and integrated waste management. Highlighting funding challenges for large-scale programs, Dr. Ahmed stressed the critical need for increased financial support for infrastructure and operations.

Md. Azizur Rahman presented research on the efficacy of Biofil toilets in Bangladesh, showcasing its potential as an alternative in rural settings due to its water-efficient design.

Moreover, Dr. Abdullah Al-Muyeed from the CWIS-FSM Support Cell, DPHE shared the existing ecosystem of CWIS in Bangladesh to achieve safely managed sanitation, providing an overview of urban sanitation initiatives. A captivating video on Bangladesh’s CWIS ecosystem drew significant attention, impressing audiences with its innovative approach.

Professor Dr. Tanvir Ahmed presented a study on ‘Septic Tank Sludge Treatment Employing Normal and Bioenergy Producing Constructed Wetlands: A Laboratory-Scale Study.’ The bioenergy recovered from the treatment system can be used within the systems for better functioning.

ITN-BUET showcased a poster detailing an analysis of how existing infrastructure and community responses impact the operational FSM (Faecal Sludge Management) services in three Bangladeshi municipalities. Delegates from various participating countries, especially Zambia and South Africa, expressed interest in the ITN-BUET poster and eagerly sought further insights.

Moreover, ITN-BUET utilized the platform to expand its network and disseminate knowledge. It showcased various publications through flashcards with QR codes, covering sanitation, CWIS, occupational health and safety, climate-resilient WASH technologies, and research series.

Jay Bhagwan, Chair of the 1st IWA NSS Conference 2023, expressed enthusiasm at the overwhelming response of the participants, stating, “The response and turnout at the 1st NSS conference has signaled that the #SanitationRevolution has started.”

The conference concluded on a high note, with diverse contributions and collaborative efforts paving the way for innovative solutions addressing global sanitation challenges.

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