Mijibora Mini Symposium

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With the Peer to Peer exchange on hold due to COVID-19, the Miji Bora project took appropriate action to ensure virtual interaction between Mombasa County Government officials and counterparts from Durban (eThekwini Municipality), South Africa. The project team held a second interactive webinar on the 4th September 2020 of the Peer-to-Peer learning exchange, focussing on Durban’s sustainable sanitation projects. The webinar saw 26 participants joining the meeting from various Mombasa County Government and eThekwini Municipality departments as well as members of the Central KwaZulu-Natal Climate Change Compact; a local level climate change partnership within that province.

The session commenced at 14h00 EAT where Dr Godfrey Nato, the CEC in-charge of Environment, Waste Management and Energy welcomed participants to the second interactive webinar. He emphasized the importance of the webinar that to the department of water and sanitation, especially in terms of sharing sustainable solutions for sanitation.

After the welcoming remarks, Dr Sean O’Donoghue provided an overview on the peer-to-peer learning exchange and introduced Ms. Lungi Zuma, who is a Professional Chemical Engineer working at eThekwini Municipality’s Water and Sanitation Unit (EWS). In the unit, Lungi is part of a team that works on Research and Innovation projects, primarily focusing on non-sewered sanitation.

“If we don’t get our sanitation right, it takes away many of the wins we get through our Transformative River Management Programme” explained O’Donoghue, making reference to the previous month’s TRMP webinar. Therefore, it is paramount for the two i.e river management and sanitation to go hand in hand.

Zuma presented the sustainable sanitation work being done in her department, where the objective is to provide water and sanitation services within areas outside of the formally developed urban zones, including in informal settlements, to ensure an effective barrier against the spread of disease in under-serviced rural communities. The municipality supplies piped water through Umgeni Water, a private utility company, to urban households while in rural areas and informal settlements, residents receive a free basic amount of 200L of water per day either through a shared stand pipe or delivery by tank.

Waterborne sanitation in Durban consists of a conventional centralized sewer system, for which the reticulation systems follows watercourses throughout the system. When parts of the system fail, they discharge into adjacent rivers, thereby putting river management systems at high risk. Outside of this centralized system, EWS provides Ventilated Improved Pit latrines (VIPs), Urine Diversion Toilets, in rural areas, and Community Ablution Blocks (CABs), in informal settlements.

Zuma presented two examples from a range of sustainable sanitation technologies piloted by EWS:

  1. Decentralized wastewater treatment system (DEWATS), which is a low-tech system using gravity and biological processes to treat the wastewater at a street scale.
  2. ECO-SAN which has a toilet block and a wastewater treatment system that treats wastewater and recycles for toilet flushing.
  3. Loowatt which is a household level toilet for informal settlement residents which is a paid service for community members willing to pay for a higher level of service than CABs. User acceptance and affordability is important.
  4. Treated wastewater direct reuse for industrial use
  5. Treated wastewater and sea water desalination for industrial use

Key points to innovation sanitation include:

  1. Pilot application before going to full scale implementation;
  2. User acceptance and political buy-in;
  3. Continuous monitoring and improvement; and
  4. Increase entrepreneurial involvement.

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