X.6 Exit Strategy, Hand-over and Decommissioning of Infrastructure

An exit strategy in the context of emergency sanitation interventions is a planned approach of why, what, when and how implementing organisations will end their sanitation related humanitarian engagement. This includes the process of transitioning, handing-over, decommissioning of infrastructure and exiting or disengaging from activities, projects, programme areas or countries.

Potential exit and transition strategies should be considered from the start of activities. This is particularly important in all non-acute scenarios, and should be implemented as soon as basic sanitation services are (re-) established at a level that successfully reduce vulnerabilities brought upon by acute environmental health risks. For post-acute, chronic and protracted crises, exit criteria are applied. These criteria help compare the advantages and cost-effectiveness of a sustained humanitarian intervention with those of an intervention led by local authorities and agencies, or other donors and/ or partners. Exit and transition strategies are context dependent. However, they must be addressed at an early stage of an intervention for reasons of transparency with partners and to promote a seamless handover to respective government departments or development partners respectively. Humanitarian sanitation interventions must be in line with national strategies and policies X.4. If the local situation allows they should be carried out in coordination with the government and/or relevant development actors to jointly define scope and focus of the interventions. Implementing partners must specify when and how project support will be terminated and handed over to the local government, other local organisations or service providers capable to sustain/maintain the achieved sanitation service levels, or clarify whether and how projects will be followed up (e.g. by another phase and potential for follow-on funding to continue WASH activities if needed). The following sustainability criteria should be addressed as early as possible to allow for a successful hand-over to local governments or other development actors and guarantee the future viability of the system:

The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Technical sustainability: Sanitation interventions must support locally appropriate technologies and designs as well as available and affordable local construction materials. Interventions need to be balanced between technically feasible solutions and what the affected population, local government entities or service providers desire and can manage after the project ends in order for sanitation services to remain operational.

The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Financial sustainability: The respective costs for the long-term operation and maintenance (O & M) of sanitation infrastructure need to be considered during the selection of the system modules. While cost recovery is not a priority in acute humanitarian sanitation response, awareness of the protracted financial consequences of (re-)establishing sanitation services is essential from the outset.

The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Socio-cultural and institutional sustainability: All sanitation interventions need to consider local acceptability and appropriateness of the implemented systems, convenience, system perceptions, gender issues and impacts on human dignity. Actions need to be taken to ensure that hygiene promotion activities and behavior change interventions are sustainable. The capacity of the affected population, community-based organisations or sanitation service providers to manage infrastructure, including financial management and O & M, should be known to identify the requirements for an enabling environment. Organisations and structures (public, private and community) need to be in-place to provide the necessary support.

The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Environmental sustainability: The impact of interventions on local water resources needs to be assessed prior to the intervention. To build resilient sanitation systems the design needs to be adapted to the identified risks. The inclusion of integrated water resource management and sanitation safety plans is considered an integral part of the response. The design involves a comprehensive evaluation of water resources; an assessment of current and future demand; the definition of roles and functions of local and national authorities; and the identification and enforcement of water-use rules and/or master plans for water, or wastewater, systems in urban settings.

In acute scenarios involving temporary and generally onsite solutions it may be necessary to consider dismantling and decommissioning these sanitation facilities. The implementing organisation responsible for construction is usually also responsible for decommissioning. Some key issues to consider when decommissioning on-site sanitation infrastructure are outlined on the following page.

Decommissioning of Sanitation Infrastructure:
  1. Decommissioning should ideally be carried out towards the end of the ‘dry’ season when the contents of containment technologies will have had the most opportunity to dry out.
  2. Staff should be trained and provided with protective personal equipment in order to dismantle superstructures, remove latrine slabs and pipes, and backfill pits and tanks.
  3. Lime, chlorine or another form of disinfectant should be used to clean latrine slabs or pedestals, to reduce health risks and to prevent unpleasant odours.
  4. If pit/tank content is wet it may be necessary to remove it using a Manual or Motorised Emptying and Transport device C.1 C.2 or dig an overflow trench to absorb displaced fluids. The trench can either be dug around the top of the latrine or as a single line drain to work as a Leach Field D.9 .
  5. Debris from toilet superstructure or other dis- mantled facilities can be thrown into pits along with wood chips, ash or other available organic matter to aid decomposition. As these are added, fluids will overspill into the overflow trench; once the flow stops this can then be backfilled with soil and site rubble.
  6. The pit or tank should be capped with a mound of soil and rubble to allow for further settling of contents.
  7. Vegetation can be planted on top if in line with site rehabilitation D.5 . If not, a larger pile of debris should be placed over the filled pit to allow for further subsidence as the contents settle and decompose. Capping with concrete should be considered if in a populated area where access is possible. However, potential sub- sequent settling must be considered.
  8. If possible the area should be fenced off to pre- vent it from being disturbed.
  9. Used superstructure materials (wood, tarpaulin, slabs etc.) and prefabricated plastic super- structure units may become a solid waste problem X.8. If these cannot be re-used (after proper disinfec- tion) they should be recycled or disposed of in accordance with local regulations.
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated. The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment. The above ground walls and roof built around a toilet or bathing facility to provide privacy and protection to the user. User interface used for urination and defecation. Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.
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