Public Statement: FSM Alliance closing its doors in 2024

Today, I write this as a leader deeply committed to the health and well-being of our communities and planet. I address the conclusion of FSMA’s initiatives with a profound sense of gratitude and a hopeful eye toward the future.

When we started this journey, our mission was to tackle one of the most pressing challenges facing so much of the world—managing fecal sludge in a sustainable, sanitary, and dignified way. Many prefer not to discuss this challenge, yet its importance is undeniable. Safe sanitation is not just about dignity; it’s a cornerstone of public health, a driver of environmental sustainability, and a foundation for economic development in our increasingly urbanized world.

Together, we’ve made significant progress. We’ve innovated, learned, and, most importantly, made a tangible impact on the lives of many. Our work has helped to shine a light on the critical importance of FSM in the sanitation sector, bringing it out of the shadows and into the public discourse. We’ve empowered communities, built partnerships, and set new standards for what can be achieved with commitment and collaboration.

FSMA is giving way to the WASH sector to forge a new, more inclusive path that includes sanitation supply chain solutions beyond fecal sludge management – next generation sanitation (NGS). The funding landscape has changed since we started, and the efforts to decolonize the sector’s voices were barely audible. Beforehand, FSM didn’t have a voice, and we worked to open the door and encourage it to be included in the larger arena of water, sanitation, climate change, and environmental resources management. 

FSM is now part of the wider conversation for a future where sanitation is safely managed for all. While FSM still needs a platform for discussion, we see a future where sanitation as a sector is inherently inclusive of all technologies and innovations – whether a community uses wastewater or pits – and advocates for the professionalization and dignity of sanitation workers of all kinds. Over the next few months, FSMA will share our observed impact, who will continue the efforts, and what lessons we’ve learned in the many years we’ve engaged with WASH colleagues.

As we prepare to wind down FSMA, I want to take a moment to express my deepest thanks to every member of our team, all of our partners, and the members we’ve served. Your dedication, expertise, and belief in the power of change have fuelled this initiative. You’ve demonstrated what’s possible when we come together – united by a common cause.

Though our initiative is coming to a close, the work is far from over. The foundation we’ve built together is strong, and the lessons we’ve learned are invaluable. I urge everyone involved—governments, private sector partners, communities, and global organizations—to continue this vital work. Take what we’ve started and build upon it. Innovate further, reach wider, and push harder towards a world where everyone can access safe sanitation.

As for the future, I remain optimistic. Change is never easy, and the path forward is rarely straight. But I believe in our ability to meet challenges head-on and to use our collective will, intelligence, and compassion to create a better world. Let’s carry forward the spirit of this initiative in all we do, ensuring that the legacy of FSMA continues to inspire and make a difference in the world.

Thank you.

 

Jennifer Williams
Executive Director, FSMA