The FSM Conference is the world’s only conference dedicated to faecal sludge management. The conference aims to share the latest knowledge, evidence, and case studies from around the world on faecal sludge management and non-sewered sanitation. The conference is held bi-annually and alternates between Asia and Africa.
The first FSM conference was initially a small seminar of about 150 people who met in March 2011 in Durban with the theme: What happens when the pit is full? This was the first event that brought together curious minds with a desire to tackle the sanitation problem in South Africa.
This seminar was such a success that they held a second meeting in October of 2012 with over 300 people attending. From there, the FSM conferences were born and have been held every 2 years, alternating between Asia and Africa. FSM3 was held in 2015 in Hanoi, followed by FSM4 in 2017 in Chennai and in 2019, FSM5 was co-convened with AfricaSan 5 and held in Cape Town. FSM6 had been planned to be held in Jakarta but was moved online and held as a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FSM conference has always aimed to present the latest evidence, scientific research, community of practice, and case studies that focus on real-world implementation. In addition, the conference has focused on bringing together the various stakeholders working in FSM from academics, researchers, municipal employees, donors, government actors, service providers, and utilities. This FSM conference is one of the few places where professionals working in FSM can connect with their peers – a community that they can be a part of.
The conference also hosts activities such as the World Emptying Challenge – an activity to specifically recognise sanitation workers. As the clock counts down to 2030 and the SDG targets, one thing that has remained constant in the sanitation sector is the need for safe service provision at all levels. The city-wide inclusive sanitation (CWIS) framework shows a clear need to combine approaches – both sewered and non-sewered, in order to achieve inclusive sanitation service at scale. In communities with poor sanitation infrastructures, it is important to emphasize the critical role sanitation workers play as the direct implementers of CWIS.