Water Week 2019: Veolia works for a sanitation economy for all

On 2 April at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, Laurent Auguste, Senior Executive Vice President, Development, Innovation and Markets for Veolia, spoke during the opening plenary session of Water Week on the theme of "A Water-Secure World for all". He emphasized the need to develop a disruptive sanitation business model for people on low incomes that is based on circular economy principles and will create value.


Moving into a sustainable sanitation economy

Two billion people, one billion of whom live in slums, do not have access to toilets or sanitation. Laurent Auguste believes we should favour an approach that is based on circular economy principles and value creation.
In his opinion, the only way for developing countries to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 "Water and sanitation for all", is to offset the necessary investment through waste recovery in circular economy loops.


The Nairobi slum

Laurent Auguste cited the example of a Nairobi slum in Kenya that is home to one million people. As part of its partnership with the Toilet Board Coalition, Veolia has identified start-ups capable of deploying large-scale sanitation access solutions. One in particular is based on breeding fly larvae from the waste; the larvae are then transformed into protein for livestock feed or into fertilizers for local agriculture as a high quality alternative to chemical fertilizers.

This form of waste recovery uses a viable economic model. The project also involves a downstream phase including building 25,000 toilets and collecting waste via containers. This phase - which involves initial investment - will require funding through social impact bonds that measure the positive social and health impacts. This model could ultimately be deployed at a cost of $10 per person per year, compared to the average $50 per person per year required by traditional approaches to sanitation. Investors like the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation could earmark funds for the country's government. The project, which is built on developing the circular economy, will be launched this year and rolled out over 3 to 5 years.
Laurent Auguste
Senior Executive Vice President, Development, Innovation and Markets