Tracking Septage Disposal in Accra
Develop tools that connect customers with providers, monitor transport of septage, and enforce compliance with environmental standards.
Over 1300 cubic meters of septic sludge and nightsoil (septage) are collected from onsite facilities at households and businesses, transported in vacuum trucks and discharged daily in Ghana within the greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA). Most of it ends up untreated into the sea, either directly or through the urban drainage system, and constitutes a serious health hazard to the people.
A device (eg smartphone that could take georeferenced pictures) that could monitor the services from the point of collection (household or business), to the point of discharge (septage treatment facilities) could be ag reat tool in the hands of local gov’t officials to ensure that regulations are enforced. IDeally they would serve as a manifesto indicating that the volume of septage collected should equal the volume of septage discharged at the appropriate facility. There is a need to regulate the operation of the trucks so that they dispose the septage in selected treatment facilities. This includes tracking the trucks, which would enable the dispatcher to respond to demand based on location and thereby improve efficiency. As part of monitoring the activity of these trucks, we should develop a mobile service that enables customers to indicate when they require pickup from a septic tank. This would include image or stories that would accompany these reports. Additionally, this would include local mobile payment solution integrated that enables customers to pay tank driver. That payment is held on escrow and only released when the truck driver “checks in” at a disposal location, after which the money is released and transaction enacted. Regulators would be part of this feedback loop to help monitor resources, activities, etc. Bonus: A map of disposal locations so citizens can report illegal dumping. Similar to a heatmap.
Any solution could be integrated into an upcoming World Bank development project. The project remains in planning phases, meaning applications could be piloted or tested on the ground as part of this development project. A counterpart in Accra is aware of the challenge and would be interested in involvement. There is also potential of implementation in other areas / cities in Ghana and beyond.