An all-encompassing movement triggers regency-wide awareness

Regent of Soppeng demonstration desluding from a civil servants residence

An advocacy story from Soppeng Regency, Indonesia by USDP guest bloggers.

Towards a public that widely believes a leaking septic tank does not matter, and are not aware of sludge accumulation – introducing the entire faecal sludge management cycle is tricky. Desludging is viewed as an emergency measure rather than something regularly needed for the proper functioning of a septic tank, and for safeguarding the environment.

In Soppeng Regency, Province of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, the challenge was pronounced by the discrepancy between sanitation planning and implementation. In 2017, during a mapping exercise, overall sanitation was found in a rather bad condition.

Only seven of the 70 sub-districts had reached ODF (open defecation free) status. About 6,100 households did not have access to a septic tank in 2017, whereas only a few households desludged their tank, usually on an ‘on-call basis’ after a spillover had occurred.

Besides, infrastructure such as public washing areas (known locally as MCK, Mandi Cuci Kakus), the Waste Water Treatment Plant, and the Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant (known as Instalasi Pengelolaan Lumpur Tinja or IPLT) were poorly maintained, and operating far below design capacity.

Departing from this condition, the Sanitation Working Group (Pokja Sanitasi) of Soppeng formulated an all-encompassing promotion concept. Aimed to pursue multi-stakeholder’s participation, such as the local government, private sector, as well as communities, the SoBAT (Free-From-Excreta Soppeng/Soppeng Bebas Ancaman Tinja) movement was born. Six months after its development, the Working Group agreed to pitch SoBAT to spearhead the sanitation advocacy initiatives of Soppeng.

Regent of Soppeng (left) with USDP Team Manager (right) on LLTT Launching Event

Regent of Soppeng (left) with USDP Team Manager (right) on LLTT Launching Event

Civil Servants attending Soppeng's Initial LLTT Launching

Civil Servants attending Soppeng's Initial LLTT Launching

In response, the Regent of Soppeng supported the movement by issuing two regulations: one set up Soppeng’s target to achieve ODF status by 2018 [1], the other detailed the implementation of the SoBAT movement [2].

Besides strengthening the legal basis of the movement, the Regent also seized the moment of Indonesia’s Independence Day celebration on 17 August 2017 to launch the SoBAT movement. The movement itself consists of five main initiatives:

  1. Constructing and rehabilitating toilets and septic tanks.

  2. Identifying and monitoring the quality of septic tanks in households, offices, and other facilities.

  3. Regularly emptying (desludging) one’s own septic tank.

  4. Optimising the organisation of faecal sludge management.

  5. Optimising the Community-Led Total Sanitation (known locally as STBM, Sanitasi Total Berbasis Masyarakat) approach.

Besides achieving ODF, SoBAT particularly emphasised the importance of the entire faecal sludge management cycle in its advocacy initiatives by highlighting the importance of a sustainable sanitation service.

In the long run, the integrated advocacy concept helped imprint the sanitation movement into wider audiences, as well as piquing their curiosity. This advocacy approach successfully promoted the sanitation movement to a wider audience, and raised awareness about sanitation.

As a result, during the span of a year, the sanitation access and condition in Soppeng Regency saw substantial improvements in various aspects.

Soppeng's Desludging Truck

Soppeng's Desludging Truck

Regent of Soppeng Demonstrating Desludging from a Civil Servant's Residence

Regent of Soppeng Demonstrating Desludging from a Civil Servant's Residence

Per September 2018, the Department of Health stated that as many as 33 out of 70 sub-districts had achieved ODF status.

Budget allocations from various sources saw a significant increase in 2018, compared to the previous year. Whereas the whole sanitation budget in 2017 was Rp 6.7 billion for Soppeng Regency, it almost doubled to Rp 12.8 billion in 2018. This amount received allocations from the National Budget and Expenditure grant, Regional Budget and Expenditure grant, Sub-district Fund, Special Allocation Fund, as well as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilty) schemes.

At grassroots level, the SoBAT movement was successfully embraced by the community of housewives PKK, Pembina Kesejahteraan Keluarga (Fosterer of Family Welfare). In March 2018, the Head of the PKK — the wife of the Regent himself — was appointed as the Soppeng Sanitation Ambassador.

Enthusiasm of local government to partake in this movement is also apparent. As many as 2,272 of the 5,300 civil servants in Soppeng had registered themselves online for Scheduled Desludging Service (known locally as LLTT, Layanan Lumpur Tinja Terjadwal).

By the end of 2018, the local Community-Based Total Sanitation monitoring system reported that the Soppeng Regency is now ODF; this however still needs final verification by the Department of Health. Once verified, this achievement is planned to be declared in March 2019, along with the launching of the 2nd stage of the SoBAT movement, which will emphasise in giving promotions and incentives for civilians and private sector involvement.

Through its achievements and sustained effort, this case of Soppeng Regency testifies how a catchy promotional concept helps sustain an otherwise difficult-to-instill concept and practice of sanitation.

[1] Known locally as Peraturan Bupati No. 39/2017 tentang Gerakan Menuju Akses Sanitasi Layak dan Berkelanjutan, or Regent Decree No. 39 Year 2017 on Movement Towards Improved & Sustainable Sanitation Access.
[2] Known locally as Instruksi Bupati No. 3403/KDS/VIII/2017 tentang Pelaksanaan Gerakan SoBAT, or Regent Instruction No. 3403/KDS/VIII/2017 on Implementation of SoBAT Movement.

About the Authors: Urban Sanitation Development Program ( (USDP)
Klara Virencia is the journalist for Urban Sanitation Development Program-2 (USDP-2). In the spirit of encouraging replication of sanitation best practices throughout Indonesia, Klara shares stories on the digital national sanitation development platform, National Water Supply and Sanitation Information Services (NAWASIS), and the Portal Sanitasi Facebook page.

Mees van Krimpen is a water resources and sanitation management specialist who, since 2010, has been involved in sanitation development in Indonesia: first as co-team leader of the Urban Sanitation Development Program-1 (USDP-1). Since 2016, Mees has been team leader of USDP’s second phase. USDP works with governments in finding solutions to accelerate infrastructure development, and to establish sustainable services delivery by drawing programme lessons for nationwide replication.

Photos: USDP/ Klara Virencia