Bird's eye view of a sewage treatment plant
Image by , UnsplashWastewater treatment plant from above
Salvador, Brazil

A Tale of Two Communities: User Perceptions of Sewerage Systems in Salvador, Brazil

This research was conducted by Fabiana Almerinda G. Palma, Jonatas Fernandes Araújo Sodré, Nivison Nery Jr, Luciana Joaquim Oliveira, Joe Brown, Anu Bourgeois, Claire A. Spears, Cassandra White, Federico Costa, and Christine E. Stauber.


The study focuses on comparing user perceptions of condominium and conventional sewer systems in two urban communities of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. The research was conducted from September to December 2021.

Key Conclusions

  • The condominial sewer system is a practical, low-cost, effective and simplified engineering approach compared to conventional sewer systems.
  • Of the 203 residents surveyed, 50.7% lived in an area served by a condominium sewer system.
  • Residents in the condominium sewer site were more likely to report not being connected to the public sewer system (23.7% vs. 11.2%; p = 0.022) than in the conventional site.
  • They reported more collective action to solve urban sanitation problems (69.9% vs. 54.0%; p = 0.020), such as cleaning manholes and unblocking pipes to repair them.
  • Despite these challenges, these residents reported that the current quality of service was better than it had been in the previous two years.
  • The study suggests that even within the peripheral communities of a large Brazilian city, there are disparities in access to and quality of sanitation services that may be related to the implementation of sewerage systems.
  • The implementation of simplified sanitation systems is important to meet the growing sanitation needs of urban areas.
  • These systems should also play a role in reducing sanitation inequalities and adopting participatory approaches to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged populations.
  • Despite challenging conditions, there is the potential for community engagement and active participation in sanitation-related matters, which could enhance the implementation and long-term sustainability of these systems.
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