3 Questions

Susanne Shatanawi

Susanne Shatanawi is programme officer WASH at Simavi and responsible for managing WASH programmes in Indonesia and Nepal. She is an expert on technical and social aspects of WASH with a focus on strengthening the capacity of local stakeholders and community empowerment. She visited Stockholm World Water Week to give a poster presentation about wastewater treatment plants in Nepal.


What are your expectations for Stockholm World Water Week (WWW)?

“We all know that sustainable and efficient management of water and wastewater has an effect on all aspects of human life, sustainable development and environment.  That’s why we (actors from governments, private sector, multilateral organisations, civil society and universities) are in Stockholm to find ways together to better use, and reuse, water. I hope that ideas around water and waste are brought forward. I also hope to see new research results, share experiences with other organisations, hear the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals, discuss ways to meet the world’s growing water and waste challenges, and explore new business models linked to water and waste.”


Could you explain what you‘ve talked about during your poster presentation at WWW?

“Simavi and local partner SmartPaani explored the functionality of the wastewater treatment plants within the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley to better understand the existing scenario and to provide cost-effective solutions that make decentralised wastewater treatment plants viable in Nepal.

The major limitations we found in the current systems were weak management and ownership. The majority of the users were unaware about many things: the systems’ working mechanisms; the possibility of receiving tariff collections from users; water reuse and resource recovery; and monitoring. Furthermore there were no user committees.

Based on our feasibility study two models emerged as potential solutions. The first is a management-ownership approach where the government/donor funds 50% of the system and provides financing to the private sector for the remaining amount and allows them to manage the system and collect revenue. The second is a multi-system private sector approach contract where the builder provides after sales service after construction based on the agreed amount.”


What are the biggest challenges to improving water and wastewater management in Nepal? And what needs to change to improve the sustainability of wastewater treatments plants in Nepal?

“Our experience with wastewater treatments plants has shown that this simple and cost effective system can be used to treat various types of wastewater ranging from grey water to septage. However, we still face challenges concerning the long-term functioning of this technology in Nepal:

– Due to the lack of awareness of decentralised wastewater systems, it is difficult to convince people that a) it works and b) they should pay for it.

– Although the cost of the technology is relatively low, it is difficult to convince people to invest in this system instead of discharging effluent into a river.

–  It’s a low maintenance system, but people think this means ‘no maintenance’. This can lead to carelessness regarding simple operation and maintenance requirements.

– Wastewater treatment isn’t a priority for local government, due to a lack of strong legislation and procedures.

The government thinks that individuals or communities are responsible for the management and functionality of these systems. There is a clear need for reviewing the relationship between the service providers (public/donor/private) and public authorities, so that it becomes a contractual (and regulated) relationship with clear roles and responsibilities.”


You can view Susanne’s poster presentation online here.

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