Towards improved sustainable sanitation for rural women, men and children

Ecosan toilets have been revolutionizing the rural sanitation sector in Moldova the past 10 years. In many rural areas sewerage is simpy not feasible due to lack of reliable water supply or because investment and operation costs are not affordable.

An Ecological Sanitation Programme was initiated where multiple donors and organizations support the Republic of Moldova in implementing ecological sanitation. We were one of the drivers of this Programme raising awareness and demonstrating the feasibility of the urine diverting dry toilet (UDDT).

Urine Diverting Dry Toilets

UDD Toilets are far more comfortable to use than the old, unhygienic latrines. And on top of that they protect the groundwater from pollution. Another advantage is that they can be constructed adjacent to the house or even indoor, which adds to the comfortability as many pit latrines are situated outside. The technology of UDDT is based on the separation of urine and faecal matter inside the toilet and the separate collection and treatment of this.

55 school toilets

Today mainly the NGOs Ormax and Wisdom promote ecosan for household and schools. And a project which has taking on the idea is Apasan (implemented by Skat Consulting and financed by the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency and co-financed by the Austrian Development Agency upon request by the Moldovan government) which has implemented more than 55 school toilets, since 2007.

Natural waste water treatment

Constructed wetlands are an effective natural wastewater treatment technology. It’s energy efficient, doesn’t need a lot of operational costs and is suitable for rural areas. The wetlands have been implemented in some rural areas but clear guidance for design and construction has been missing so far.

Promoting simple and low cost solutions

The good experiences with these technologies at the local level have informed national policy-making: in the frame of the 2nd UNECE-SDC funded project titled “Implementation of targets to implement the Protocol on Water and Health in the Republic of Moldova” revising the regulation was envisaged as a priority task to promote most reliable, simple and low-cost solutions in rural areas.

Our water and sanitation specialist Claudia Wendland was assigned and together with a local expert group, she initiated the work on these two new technical standards. Lead authors were Sergiu Andreev (Wisdom) for the ecosan standard and Dumitru Ungureanu and Olga Covaleva (both from national universities) for the constructed wetland standard. The expert group comprised experts from the Public Health Institute, Ion Shalaru, and the Ministry of Environment, Serafima Tronza, from the Apasan programme as well as local consultants. The national Ministry of Regional Development and Construction in Moldova approved the new technical standards (codes of practice).

New technical national standards:

Code of Practice on construction and operation of ecosan toilets now available in Russian & Romanian and in English.
Code of Practice on construction and operation of constructed wetlands now available in Russian & Romanian and in English.

Both new codes of practice were approved by the national Ministry of Regional Development and Construction in Moldova.