The business case for rural sanitation

Location: Lower Nile delta region, Egypt


  • Holding Company for Water & Wastewater, Cairo, Egypt
  • Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO)

The objective

The objective of the project was to test a new methodology for the development of a business case and corresponding geographical master plan for rural sanitation in Egypt. The business case should consider the economics and the social and environmental benefits of improved sanitation which included the assessment of effluent reuse and sludge-to-energy/fertilizer pathways.

Towards realizing the vision
The ambition of the HCWW is to phase out the use of septic tanks and to reach full coverage of secondary treatment by 2030. The project assessed the potential impact of improved rural sanitation infrastructure on rural communities, in terms of improved health, job creation, improved quality of water, higher-quality crop production and higher fish production.

The cluster approach
A “generic/ scalable” AquaVest model of a cluster of 30 villages with sludge-to-energy facility was built for the Damietta governate. Sewage generated from the villages is treated locally (decentralized) and effluents can be used locally for agriculture, aquaculture or wood plantations. The sludge generated from sewage treatment is transported to the centralized sludge-to-energy/fertilizer facility.

Master planning
The proximity of the villages to farmland, lakes or nature reserves influences the potential for revenue generation from effluents. The transport distance from the villages to the centralized sludge management facility influences the business case for sludge-to-energy and sludge-to-fertilizer. Transportation methods considered were pipeline and trucking. A transition plan was developed to realize the vision for 2030.

The Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) published an article about this project:


“The AquaVest tool helped us to develop a geographical master plan and business case for rural sanitation and sludge-to-energy that matches the vision of the HCWW for 2030. AquaVest helped us to comprehensively understand the techno-economic, social and environmental benefits of different sewage and sludge handling options in the Egyptian rural villages.
Prof. Dr. Rifaat Abdel Wahaab, Holding Company for Water & Wastewater Cairo, Egypt.