Magelang city is a small city in Central Java province that relies on tourism as one of its main incomes.
However, many families in this city lack access to safely managed sanitation and dispose of their human waste to water sources directly into the ground or water body.
Of a total of 41,817 HHs in Magelang city, 33,033 HHs have access to SPALDS and SPALDT. Meanwhile, 7,131HHs only have toilets without septic tank, and 1,653 HHs still practice open defecation (SSK Magelang city 2017).
If this situation is not improved, the city’s environment could be contaminated with human waste, which would make the city less attractive for tourists.
Low public awareness on why having a toilet with septic tank matters has become a barrier for the people to build those facilities.
In addition, the Head of Regional Economy and Infrastructure Division of Magelang city Bappeda, Iwan Triteny Setyadi, said that building an individual septic tank could be challenging due to the city’s high population in limited space.
To overcome these geographical barriers, the city housing and settlement office with support from USAID IUWASH PLUS through the LSIC program, built shared septic tanks for densely populated areas.
This technology was chosen because it does not require a lot of space. Moreover, the shared septic operation and maintenance could be simpler because each facility only serve few houses and thus less people involved.
From March to July 2018, the city housing and settlement office and USAID IUWASH PLUS conducted an assessment to identify the areas to receive the shared septic tanks by observing a set of criteria, such as having a high population (some of whom belong to B40 group) and the community is committed to providing land for maintaining the shared septic tanks. From the assessment, 13 urban villages were selected to receive the shared septic tanks.
From August 2018 to February 2019, the city housing and settlement office and USAID IUWASH PLUS built two prototypes of shared septic tanks with a capacity of two to ten houses in two urban villages to assess the proper construction process, including cost and timeline.
After knowing the right construction process, the city housing and settlement office and USAID IUWASH PLUS built 18 shared septic tanks in the other 11 urban villages at the end of February 2019. In addition, the city housing and settlement office also provided latrines to the houses that did not have such a facility. The city housing and settlement office and USAID IUWASH PLUS established care-taker groups and trained them to maintain the facility.
As of August 2019, 160 HHs from the total 20 shared septic tanks in 13 urban villages are connected to the shared septic tanks, including Slamet’s family.
“Thanks to the city government, life is now more convenient. My wife and I don’t have to go uphill to a public toilet,” said Slamet.
The Head of Magelang city Bappeda, Joko Suparno said, “Magelang city government is committed to replicating the shared septic tanks to other areas”.
The government will also share its lessons learnt from the shared septic tank construction with other USAID IUWASH PLUS supported regions in Central Java, hoping that more cities follow Magelang’s path.
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