Although many cities have planed to develop sewerages in developing countries, sewerage establishment still requires huge investment and engineering efforts. Improvement of existing sanitation facilities may contribute the betterment of urban sanitation before sewerage establishment. The purpose of this study is to propose a measure to improve urban sanitation in areas where a sewerage development plan is proposed but has not been yet established, based on a case study in Hanoi, Vietnam. We found that 90.5% of human excreta flowed into septic tanks. However, 89.6% of septic tanks have never been desludged in the past and their performance was observed to be at a low level. The study also showed that if they introduce regular desludging with a frequency of once a year, they can eliminate 72.8% of COD loads from septic tanks. It was indicated that the performance can be dramatically recovered by regular desludging, which could contribute urban sanitation improvement in Hanoi. In conclusion, the performance recovery of septic tanks by regular desludging was proposed as a provisional-and-urgent measure for urban sanitation improvement, together with the septage treatment in sewage sludge treatment facilities, which should be established earlier than other facilities of sewage treatment systems.

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