Wooing people into signing up for desludging service

Freshly painted desluding truck for lltt

A smart financing story from Kendari, Indonesia by USDP guest bloggers.

In a community where sanitation is still ‘unseen’ and remains an underrated topic, wooing people to take part in scheduled desludging might seem futile. While the same community does have the buying power for a decent smartphone (around Rp 1.5 million or US$ 105), for them, signing up for a once-every-four-years scheduled desludging service costing Rp 400,000 (or US$ 28.23) is still considered a nuisance, rather than a worthwhile investment.

Nevertheless, in the SDG 6 goal for 2030, ‘safely managed’ constitutes the assurance of safely treated excreta. Thus, in densely populated areas, encouraging people to have a proper septic tank coupled with regular desludging seems to be the most visible pathway to reach SDG 6. Yet, realising this will be a hard-won one.

Indonesia’s Ministry of National Development Planning has chosen this scheduled desludging service scheme mainframe for the nation’s sanitation development. Despite this, some cities and regencies are struggling to ignite awareness, and trigger ‘early adopters’ to contract a scheduled desludging service [1], or known as Layanan Lumpur Tinja Terjadwal (LLTT) in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Kendari city in Southeast Sulawesi stood out, and came forward with a smart credit scheme to incentivise the first batch of LLTT customers.

In Kendari, civil servants are mandated by regulations [2] to serve as early adopters. For the mayor of Kendari, Zulkarnain, civil servants should avoid promoting something they don’t believe in themselves.

“Hence, the mayor instructed the civil servants to be the forefront customers,” said the Head of Infrastructure Section from Kendari’s Regional Development Planning Agency, Zainudin Azis.

In April 2018, coinciding with Earth Day celebrations, Kendari’s Sanitation Working Group launched the Mayor’s Instruction No. 2/2018 — requiring civil servants to sign up for LLTT. The law, however, is not as binding as national law. It doesn’t impose punishments for non-compliance. Two months have passed, and only 55 members had signed up for the LLTT programme.

Civil servants chosen as pilot customers for LLTT

Civil servants chosen as pilot customers for LLTT

Kendari's mayor trying out freshly painted desludging truck for LLTT

Kendari's mayor trying out freshly painted desludging truck for LLTT

This is when the financial incentive came into play. For subscriptions starting in August 2018, Kendari’s Mayor Zulkarnain instructed the Working Group to offer a 50% membership discount. Supported by the local government’s budget, monthly deductions go down to as little as Rp 16,000 (US$ 1.3).

Later that month, the Working Group launched the local sanitation programme Layanan Terjadwal, Non Tunai (LENTERA) [3] directed towards their fellow civil servants. Through this programme, the Working Group offers a two-year credit scheme for desludging service. To enable the system, the Working Group is cooperating with Bank Sultra & Bank BRI, a regional and national bank respectively. While Bank Sultra enables the credit scheme, Bank BRI is the government’s official partner for civil servants’ payroll accounts. Bank BRI facilitates automatic payroll deductions, and transfers payments to Bank Sultra, and relieves the interbank transfer fees.

At the time of the LENTERA programme launch, civil servants from the Health Department signed up as the largest members among other departments.

Symbolic launching of LENTERA programme

Symbolic launching of LENTERA programme

Civil servants attending LENTERA programme launching

Civil servants attending LENTERA programme launching

"For sure, we would be ashamed if — as health workers — we failed to support this programme,” said the Head of Health Department, Rahmaningrum. For the long run, Rahmaningrum was determined to make LENTERA programme’s membership a prerequisite for administrative affairs in the Health Department.

Per January 2019, as many as 1,183 civil servants and 470 civilians are registered for scheduled desludging service.

Besides supporting the credit scheme for regular desludging, Bank Sultra also offers a 4-year credit scheme for civil servants to obtain a standardised septic tank or to upgrade their old ones.

By offering creative credit schemes in partnership with a local bank, Kendari has successfully transformed a financing strategy into an effective advocacy move.

[1] In reference to ‘Diffusion of Innovation’ theory, coined by Everett Rogers in 1962. Initially a communication theory, the theory itself helps explain the spread of new technologies in any field. Further reading: https://www.thesourcemagazine.org/principles-of-persuasion/.
[2] Two regulations were released during Kendari’s 2018 Earth Day Celebration. Mayor’s Decree No. 18 Year 2018 arranges the enforcement of the LLTT system. Meanwhile, through Mayor’s Instructions No. 2 Year 2018, civil servants are specified to sign up for LLTT, and upgrade their septic tank.
[3] Translated as ‘Lantern’, LENTERA is a loose abbreviation for Layanan Terjadwal, Non Tunai (Scheduled Service, Non-Cash). According to Kendari’s mayor, the term ‘lantern’ also symbolises how the programme acts as a light bearer for a society oblivious to the risk of environmental damage caused by inappropriate faecal sludge management (FSM).

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