Ecological sanitation, a scalable model for Rwanda

Type Conference Paper - 5 th International Dry Toilet Conference
Title Ecological sanitation, a scalable model for Rwanda
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
An ecosan pilot project is being run in Rwanda by The Netherlands Development Organization (SNV
Rwanda). The project aims to increase hygienic sanitation and contribute to a “Green Economy” by
improving environmental management, reducing water pollution and increasing local agricultural
production through access to ecological sanitation (Ecosan) technologies. This will increase poverty
reduction, build climate resilience and green economic growth with positive effects on human health
(reduced incidences of water-borne diseases). The project targets two districts in the volcanic region
(North-West Rwanda); namely Burera and Nyabihu (2 Sectors in each district) – 2000 families in 10
communities - 3600 students in 20 Schools.
SNV’s support focuses on improving access to rural water supply and improved sanitation through 3
sub-programmes: Functionality of Rural Water Supply Services; Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene
for All; and Water and Sanitation Services in Schools. SNV Rwanda has been working on these
WASH-related issues since 2007 in the region. SNV introduced the Ecosan project in the volcanic
regions because dry sanitation solutions are considered more appropriate for rocky terrain that is prone
to flooding. Traditional pit latrines tend to be shallow, hardly deeper than a metre. Combined with a
high water table, this increases the pollution of ground and surface water sources. Frequent floods
especially in Nyabihu make pit latrines unusable and expose surface and ground water systems to
biological pollution.
The Ecosan project has the following specific objectives: improved awareness on benefits of
ecological sanitation for health and agricultural production, improved local capacities in construction,
and operation and maintenance of Ecosan, awareness through demonstrative Ecosan models in schools
and households, action research and social learning implemented on Ecosan and lessons learned used
to inform policy development.
The project approach is centred on strengthening local capacities (Local Capacity Builders (LCBs) and
Local masons), involvement of beneficiaries, rehabilitation of existing infrastructures, building a
scalable model, documentation of experiences, evidence-based advocacy for replication, and building
Public Private Partnerships around public toilets.
The key results attributed to the Ecosan project in Rwanda include:
 10 villages mobilized for Ecosan with more than 400 Households willing to construct Dry
 20 school representatives, 30 community mobilizers and 30 masons trained,
 4 cooperatives trained in Operation and Maintenance and business oriented Ecosan;
 40 Households trained and supported to construct Ecosan model latrines;
 4 new blocks of Ecosan constructed in schools,
 2 blocks of toilets rehabilitated in public places;
 1 district-wide forum has been organized.
The project is expected to improve sanitation and hygiene practices in schools and villages. During the
first phase of the project, there is need to boost awareness on the benefits of Ecosan for health and
agricultural production. The construction phase has recently been completed. The next phase will
involve follow up visits to beneficiary households to support them in the operation and maintenance of
their toilets while training them on the use of urine and recycled faeces in agriculture. So far, Ecosan
technology is revolutionising environmental care and reducing open defecation in Burera and Nyabihu
districts. SNV is hopeful that the new model can be replicated across Rwanda once the initial project
phase is complete.

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