WASH Service Improvement: SMART distribution metering and greywater management in ITSs
The Lebanese Government estimated in October 2016 that the country was hosting 1.5 million Syrians who had fled the civil war that started in March 2011. The state of Lebanon’s water sector today is the reflection of 15 years of civil war, two decades of post-conflict, and the recent Syrian crisis, which has led to a 30 percent rise in the number of individuals requiring safe water and proper wastewater management. In a country that lacks basic water connections for 20% of its population, where networks are unreliable, and where only 8% of sewage is effectively treated, there is a huge need for improvement in both capacity and quality of WASH services.
Considering the reduction in funding available within the country, sustainable and innovative solutions are required in order to continue providing Syrian refugees with basic services, as well as better, more environmentally friendly management systems.
This project therefore aimed to reduce the reliance on water trucking and de-sludging services within three chosen information tented settlements (ITS). To do this, the project tackled these issues from two approaches:
- The first involved the training in, and implementation of different grey- and blackwater management solutions.
- 31 greywater management systems at household level, and two centralised black- and greywater management systems were constructed.
- The second intervention aimed to improve the monitoring of water supply services and de-sludging already being delivered, in order to accurately provide the correct quantity and quality. Currently monitored on paper by Action Against Hunger staff and beneficiaries, adding an extra layer of instrumental monitoring through the implantation of measuring devices as well as positioning and IT systems, aimed to increase cost-effectiveness and appropriateness of services.
- 21 water trucking and desludging services’ monitoring devices were installed, using different technologies from two different companies.
After ten months of implementation results found that:
- Household greywater management systems: the goal was not to recycle the water for irrigation (families couldn´t own gardens) but to avoid flooding areas. With no economic benefit of the treated water, some people tended not to take care of the system.
- Centralized sewage water system made out of plastic tanks (Lebanese Government would not allow to construct with concrete) and infiltration field: no more de-sludging services were needed (but once a year for the septic tanks), and no more flooding of wastewater. Beneficiaries are still taking care of the system one year after its construction.
- Monitoring of distribution services: The technology used was delicate and easy to sabotage by the trucks’ owners, which happened many times. Location data was not always received in the platforms and volumes didn´t match with reality in most cases. Even though this technology didn´t work out in this project, many findings were made, and the system can be better adapted to the context in the future.
Pilot grey- and blackwater management systems have proven to be efficient and well accepted by users, as well as a solution to minimize the costs and dependence of desludging services by the beneficiaries. At the same time, the health and environmental risk of discharging untreated wastewater can be overcome through these solutions. This is the reason why Action Against Hunger has been assessing other informal settlements in the same area where similar systems will be constructed.
Action Against Hunger opts for sustainable and innovative technological solutions that reduce the health and environmental risks in the communities, to stop the deterioration of the natural resources, and reduce the dependency and costs of services for the most vulnerable. The pilot project for instrumental monitoring of the water distribution and desludging services through the implantation of measuring devices as well as positioning and IT systems was a first step in the research of different applications for this kind of solutions. Other proposals based on the use of similar devices for different purposes have been developed, and will soon be implemented in Central America and the Middle East.