PoDIWM-2: Strengthening Capacity Development for Local Governments in ASEAN to Tackle Microplastics and Water Pollution through Decentralised Wastewater Management Approach

PoDIWM-2
Strengthening Capacity Development for Local Governments in ASEAN to Tackle Microplastics and Water Pollution through Decentralised Wastewater Management Approach
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What is PoDIWM-2?

PoDIWM is for a 2-year ASEAN Cooperation Project funded by the Japan–ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) titled “Policy Dialogue and Network Building of Multi-stakeholders on Integrated Decentralised Domestic Wastewater Management in ASEAN Countries,” (PoDIWM) (2018–2020). As suggested by its name, the project served as a policy and institutional design development platform and technology showcase for multiple stakeholders in the ASEAN region on integrated decentralised domestic wastewater management (DWM).

The project “Strengthening Capacity Development for Local Governments in ASEAN to Tackle Microplastics and Water Pollution through Decentralised Wastewater Management Approach” (PoDIWM-2) is a continuation and extension of PoDIWM. PoDIWM-2 is an initiative to address the challenges ASEAN cities face in providing safe, affordable, and sustainable domestic wastewater treatment systems. It also aims to address the emerging challenge of microplastic pollution in the region. It is a response to the shortcomings of conventional centralised approaches to wastewater management, which have proven to be costly and less adaptable to climate change and natural disasters.

Through its comprehensive approach to decentralised wastewater management and microplastic pollution control, PoDIWM-2 contributes significantly to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6, 11, and 14 in ASEAN countries. It facilitates access to clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), promotes sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), and supports the conservation of ocean life (SDG 14).

Clean Water and Sanitation

PoDIWM-2 addresses ASEAN cities’ challenges in providing safe, affordable, and sustainable domestic wastewater treatment systems.

Sustainable Cities and Communities

The initiative acknowledges the shortcomings of conventional centralised approaches to wastewater management, which are costly and less adaptable to climate change and natural disasters. In contrast, the DWM approach proposed under this project is more adaptive, resilient, and innovative, promoting sustainable cities and communities by addressing local conditions and needs.

Life Below Water

PoDIWM-2 also addresses the emerging problem of microplastic pollution in the region, apart from domestic wastewater treatment issues. Microplastics pose a serious threat to marine ecosystems and biodiversity. Under this project, a Harmonised Protocol will be developed and introduced to ASEAN nations as a practical guide for sampling, analysing, and monitoring microplastics at wastewater treatment plants and in receiving waters. This step is essential for conserving and utilising oceans, seas, and marine resources sustainably.

What We Do

COMPONENT 1
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In collaboration with international experts, we conduct baseline surveys, national and regional consultations, and technical capacity-building workshops. The baseline survey and feasibility study will be carried out in Bauang, La Union, a municipality in the northern Philippines, as a pilot site. In addition, the study’s results will be used to develop 10 training modules that will capture lessons learned and provide practical guidance on DWM systems throughout their entire life cycle, from design, construction, operation, and maintenance to final disposal.

 
COMPONENT 2
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Based on baseline and feasibility findings, the Bauang Public Market will receive a customised, adaptable, resilient, and innovative community-based DWM system. Moreover, a functional test will be conducted, and an O&M Manual will be developed to ensure the system’s longevity. There will also be a training session for the local operators of this pilot site.

 
COMPONENT 3
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The practical experience gained from the design, operation, and maintenance of the pilot DWM system will enable PoDIWM-2 to organise a series of national and regional consultative meetings/workshops for sharing the outcomes and result in the creation of several media products to promote improved DWM in ASEAN. Among the highlights is an ASEAN Regional Guidebook outlining the necessary legal, institutional, and financial frameworks for DWM and DWM infrastructure and services. In addition, a Harmonised Protocol is being developed to guide sampling, analysis, and monitoring of microplastics in wastewater treatment plants and receiving waters.

 

What’s New

IGES kickstarts a series of consultation workshops on domestic wastewater management in ASEAN
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IGES hosted an online inception workshop on 17 June 2022 as part of the PoDIWM-2 project, titled “Strengthening Capacity Development for Local Governments in ASEAN to Tackle Microplastics and Water Pollution through Decentralised Wastewater Management Approach.” ….
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IGES hosted an online inception workshop on 17 June 2022 as part of the PoDIWM-2 project, titled “Strengthening Capacity Development for Local Governments in ASEAN to Tackle Microplastics and Water Pollution through Decentralised Wastewater Management Approach.” The purpose ot this workshop was to present the entire PoDIWM-2 project, including its framework, objectives, scope, planned activities, and overall project implementation plan, which included the pilot project, as well as the expected outputs and outcomes of the project with a timeline.

In addition, the purpose of this inception workshop was for the project team members to obtain feedback, suggestions, and advice from the National Focal Points of the ASEAN Working Group on Water Resources Management (AWGWRM) and other relevant partners and stakeholders in the pilot city in the Philippines to increase the likelihood of successful dissemination, replication, and application of the project’s outcomes, including a “Regional Guidebook on Sustainable Decentralised Domestic Wastewater Management for ASEAN Resilient and Green Cities” and the development of harmonised procedures for sampling, analysis, and monitoring microplastics in sewage treatment plants and receiving water bodies (rivers), in all ASEAN countries. In 75 participants from the ASEAN member states, with a nearly equal number of men and women (38 and 37, respectively) in attendance.

Dr. Inthavy Akkharath, Chairman of the AWGWRM, provided a welcome address at the event and emphasised that most ASEAN cities continue to face difficulties in providing safe, affordable, functional, and sustainable domestic wastewater treatment systems. In addition, the conventional centralised DWM approach could not address these issues due to the substantial investment required. Meanwhile, a decentralised approach to wastewater management is a cost-effective and sustainable solution.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sevillo D. David, Executive Director of the National Water Resources Board of the Philippines and the principal project proponent, emphasised that decentralised solutions can provide opportunities for resource recovery through the reuse of treated wastewater and sludge for agricultural activities and other local purposes, thus aiding in reducing climate change-related pressure on water resources and promoting a circular economy through resource recovery.

The 2-hour inception workshop featured presentations by team members and a short Q&A session following each presentation. The workshop concluded with an open forum and additional discussion on issues raised by the participants.

Additionally, comments, suggestions, and recommendations were considered as inputs for improving current and potential future projects.

 
PoDIWM-2 members meet with International Technical Advisory Board to refine current activities, future plans
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On 04 April 2023, IGES, the Implementing Agency of PoDIWM-2, convened the 1st International Advisory Meeting, bringing together eminent researchers and experts in the fields of wastewater management and microplastics research from Japan and ASEAN to solicit advice on PoDIWM-2’s ongoing activities.

The 2.5-hour meeting featured updates on all project components presented by the project members, followed by discussions between the members and the Technical Advisory Board. During the meeting, recommendations were gathered to refine project activities and prepare for upcoming events, including the first Regional Consultation Workshop and Technical Capacity Training Session in ASEAN.

 
At the forefront of domestic wastewater management: IGES orchestrates Regional Consultation Workshop and 1st Technical Capacity Training Session in ASEAN
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IGES organised the Regional Consultation Workshop and the 1st Regional Technical Capacity Training Session in Manila, Philippines, on the 26th and 27th of April 2023, as part of a multi-country collaborative project titled “Strengthening Capacity Development for Local Governments in ASEAN to Tackle Microplastics and Water Pollution through a Decentralised Domestic Wastewater Management Approach” (PoDIWM-2).….

IGES organised the Regional Consultation Workshop and the 1st Regional Technical Capacity Training Session in Manila, Philippines, on the 26th and 27th of April 2023, as part of a multi-country collaborative project titled “Strengthening Capacity Development for Local Governments in ASEAN to Tackle Microplastics and Water Pollution through a Decentralised Domestic Wastewater Management Approach” (PoDIWM-2).

PoDIWM-2 addresses pressing issues in ASEAN member states regarding wastewater management, such as microplastics pollution, by laying the groundwork for the establishment of a regional platform and policy dialogues, promoting technological innovation, and providing technical capacity development for local governments and relevant stakeholders to achieve better and more resilient decentralised DWM. Thus, the project contributes to realising Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Clean water and sanitation. IGES is the project’s Implementing Agency.

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Aiming to discuss the project’s progress and disseminate its findings, the 2-day event brought together over 100 participants, both on-site and online, including national focal points of the ASEAN Working Group on Water Resources Management (AWGWRM), the ASEAN Secretariat, representatives of the project funder JAIF Management Team (JMT), the National Water Resources Board of the Philippines, relevant departments/divisions of local governments in the Philippines and other ASEAN cities/provinces, and IGES.

In his opening remarks, JMT Programme Coordinator Zin Aung Swe emphasised the event’s significance in providing timely progress reports to all project members and fostering a common understanding of and expectations for the project. Mr. Zin elaborated that PoDIWM-2 is a crucial factor for the realisation of ASEAN policies, including the ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris, ASEAN Strategic Plan of Action on the Environment, ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, and SDGs.

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In his opening remarks, IGES Executive Director Yasuo Takahashi extended a warm welcome to the attendees and highlighted the efforts of ASEAN to improve DWM, as well as the potential contributions of the project in general and this event in particular to aiding these efforts. Mr. Takahashi stated that the 2-day regional consultation workshop and first regional training session will allow all participants to exchange viewpoints and promote further dialogue between multi-stakeholders. He added, “By working together and sharing the outcomes, we can discover ways to more efficiently tackle the challenges we face as well as contribute to evidence-based policymaking in the region.”

The event continued with presentations by the Project Leader, Dr. Pham Ngoc Bao, from IGES and activity managers regarding each major project outcome during the first event day. The following day, detailed explanations were provided on how these outcomes and lessons learnt from Japan can be utilised to improve DWM in ASEAN. These outcomes include a training curriculum on DWM for the ASEAN region; the pilot construction of a decentralised wastewater treatment plant at the Bauang public market in the Philippines—the project pilot site; a practical regional guidebook on sustainable DWM in the ASEAN region; and a baseline investigation and development of harmonised protocols for the sampling, pretreatment, and characterisation of microplastics at sewage treatment plants and receiving waters.

Engineer Susan Abaño, a representative of the National Water Resources Board of the Philippines, thanked all of the attendees for their lively and productive discussions, which will refine the current outcomes and pave the way for future ones.

Topics

Riverine microplastic pollution in ASEAN countries
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The report titled “Riverine Microplastic Pollution in ASEAN Countries—Current State of Knowledge” comprehensively analyses microplastic pollution in ASEAN rivers and its potential effects on ecosystems and human health.

The report titled “Riverine Microplastic Pollution in ASEAN Countries—Current State of Knowledge” comprehensively analyses microplastic pollution in ASEAN rivers and its potential effects on ecosystems and human health. The report identifies microplastics—small plastic particles with a diameter of less than 5 mm—as an emerging environmental problem, particularly those originating from land-based sources such as tire debris, synthetic textile microfibers from laundry, microbeads from personal care products, and discharged domestic wastewater. These microplastics frequently enter aquatic environments, such as rivers and lakes, and ultimately the ocean, posing a threat to ecosystems, aquaculture organisms, and potentially human health.

In most ASEAN member states, riverine microplastic pollution’s occurrence, ingestion, and effects on ecosystems and human health are poorly understood. Consequently, effective and appropriate countermeasures to control the emission of microplastics have not yet been established. Several empirical studies demonstrate the presence of microplastics in water bodies, including the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, rivers, and lakes around the world. In Asia, a considerable amount of plastic is produced and discarded. According to reports, 15% of Asia’s total solid waste is plastic waste, and half of this amount enters the ocean from land-based sources, contributing to the global microplastic problem. According to studies conducted in ASEAN nations, rivers contain vast quantities of microplastics. The report notes that synthetic materials have become the dominant clothing material in recent times, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, single-use plastics have become the preferred items. Without intervention, it is unlikely that microplastic pollution will be reduced anytime soon.

The report also emphasises the cross-border nature of plastic waste issues, stating that solutions implemented in a single country will not be sufficient to address these regional and transboundary issues. It calls for collective efforts by all ASEAN member states to tackle issues throughout the plastics value chain using the circular economy approach.

For more information, please refer to the full report at:
https://www.iges.or.jp/en/pub/riverine-microplastic-asean/en

 
What is decentralised wastewater management and how it is being implemented in Asia?
The term "decentralised wastewater management" approach often refers to a system of wastewater treatment that occurs at or near the point of generation rather than at a centralised facility. In other words, waste is treated locally instead of being transported through large sewer networks to a central treatment facility. This approach is often used in areas or regions where the infrastructure required for centralised wastewater treatment is either lacking or cost prohibitive. It can involve a variety of wastewater treatment technologies, such as septic systems, constructed wetlands, or other on-site treatment methods. The report entitled "Decentralised Domestic Wastewater Management in Asia - Challenges and Opportunities" provides valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities for the successful implementation of this approach to addressing wastewater pollution issues in the context of the Asian region.
  1. The report titled “Decentralised Domestic Wastewater Management in Asia-Challenges and Opportunities” discusses the urgent need for effective wastewater management in Asia as a result of rapid economic development, population growth, and environmental degradation. The report emphasises that the traditional centralised wastewater management system, while effective in densely populated urban areas of developed countries, has proven to be infeasible and unsustainable in many regions of developing Asia due to high investment and operating costs, limited local budget allocations, lack of expertise for proper operation and maintenance, and frequently inappropriate management models. The report highlights the following approaches to addressing these issues:
  2. Decentralised sanitation decision-making: The report urges the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including local actors, in the decision-making process. It argues that top-down decision-making makes it difficult to implement policies effectively.
  3. Strong regulatory framework and transparent institutional arrangements: The report notes that the legal framework for wastewater management in several Asian nations is insufficient and that regulations are not strictly enforced. It also highlights the fact that institutional roles and responsibilities frequently overlap and are poorly defined, resulting in fragmented management.
  4. Proactive involvement of all relevant stakeholders: The report emphasises the significance of proactively involving all relevant stakeholders, including both governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders such as local actors or the private sector, in the decision-making process at an early stage. This will ensure project management transparency and sustainability.

The report concludes with a recommendation to adopt a decentralised approach to sanitation, which is better suited to the local context of many Asian nations. This approach to wastewater management is more cost-effective and sustainable than the conventional centralised system, and it involves community participation. In addition, the report highlights successful examples of decentralised wastewater management in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

For more information, please refer to the full report at:
https://wepa-db.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/WEPA_1_201503.pdf

 

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