W.A.S.H is a collective term used for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. These core issues are grouped together, and although each issue can be viewed independently, each of them is dependent on the other. For example, without access to proper toilet, or appropriate septic tanks in place, water sources can become contaminated, and therefore the practice of basic hygiene is not possible.
At Development Together we work collaboratively with local Not for Profit groups who have established connections in rural communities where we partner together to develop, implement and deliver access to safe W.A.S.H options. Our projects include constructing and enhancing access to water tanks, wells, toilets and waste water/ sewerage facilities. We also work with our local partners to deliver education and training on basic principles of water hygiene to the local community to ensure the sustainability of our projects.
One of our past Cambodia Engineering placements, saw students working with a local contractor on the installation of water wells and latrines, with our Not for Profit partners. Together, the students and local staff identified W.A.S.H. issues in a rural village and used the Human Centred Design approach to ensure the project would be “Appropriate, Desirable and Sustainable”.
Issues identified by the student Engineers included:
- Single septic tank pit design, with no separation of liquids and solids
- Large amounts of water being used for toilet/washing leading to fast filling of the septic tanks
- High water tables leading to slow emptying of the septic tanks
- Significant costs to families to empty the septic tanks which resulted in full tanks being left to seep onto surrounding soil, which led to highly odourised topsoil and an unsanitary environmentSignificant costs to families who would purchase a new septic tank ring to sit on top of the existing tanks as a temporary solution which was cheaper than getting the existing tanks emptied
- Lack of lids to seal the septic tanks, resulting in offensive smells and insect infestations
- Little or no rendering leading to insect and small animal infestations
Proposed Design by the student Engineers included:
- Solids Tank – Increase depth of pit to 1.5m
- Provide third septic tank (concrete ring)
- Liquid tank – Create additional pit
- Transpiration Leach Field – Created to disperse waste liquids
- Education campaign about appropriate use of latrines, how and when to empty septic tanks, and ways to keep insect infestations to a minimum
Our Engineering volunteers gained approval from local staff and villagers to implement their design proposals and this resulted in improved sanitation options for the families involved. We hope that this will lead to a decrease in illnesses, healthier outcomes for kids and adults, and less days of school and work missed. This will mean children are able to learn more, and adults can earn more, resulting in sustainable socio-economic development and an overall reduction in poverty, providing a better future for all.