Reducing chemicals and contamination of drinking water sources in rural communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova, Macedonia and Albania

Using Ecosan toilets, greywater filters and composting methods to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers and protect water sources in rural areas of South Eastern Europe

 The absence of a formalised service provider is typical in rural areas in the Republic of Moldova; public service providers for water and sanitation are mainly active in urban areas and larger rural communities. When it comes to sanitation, there is a drastic lack of alternatives to sewage systems because of the high initial cost. Due to a lack of funding and insufficient amounts of water, sewers mostly fail to work in rural areas. As a result, poorly constructed pit latrines and septic tanks with soak pits are the most widely used sanitation systems in rural Moldova.

In 2015, WECF was one of the main advocates raising awareness and demonstrating the feasibility of the urine diverting dry toilet (UDDT). They funded a project titled, “Reducing chemicals and contamination of drinking water sources in rural communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia and Albania.” The project addressed the problem of drinking water contamination caused by widely used pit-latrines in rural areas, as well as poor management of water resources, the intensive use of chemical fertilisers and open and unsafe disposal of waste.

The project addressed the needs of the rural population for improved environmental and living conditions through affordable and sustainable technologies. It aimed at decreasing contamination of soil and water resources, recycling of organic matter and the safe use and reduction of synthetic fertilisers in agriculture.

Initially, the ecosan technology was met with scepticism. However, after extensive awareness raising, trainings, site visits to existing UDDT in other countries as Moldova and pilot plants organised by several local NGO’s and WECF, people and decision makers were quick to notice that these toilets were more comfortable and hygienic than the latrines. Additionally, the direct attachment of the toilet block to the school building was a big advantage during the cold Moldovan winters.

On May 9th, 2017 WECF gathered with their partners in Sarajevo to host the final conference on this project. 42 participants, including scientists, representatives from UNEP, national health and environment agencies, NGO’s and media representatives, from 7 countries, met to discuss the further diffusion of sustainable technologies in rural areas in the Balkan Region.