At least 12 of the poorest slums covering over 2,000 households in one city each in Fiji and Indonesia will participate in a pilot run for what would be the world’s blueprint for sustainable and safe water delivery and sanitation solutions.
An international consortium led by Australia’s Monash University will begin a US$20 million research project that could provide the blueprint for ecologically and economically sustainable water and sanitation solutions for the over one billion people living in urban slums mostly in developing countries.
The two countries were chosen for their different cultural and climatic challenges.
Researchers felt this diverse understanding would allow a wider application of their approach to trial decentralise water management infrastructure in urban slums with each slum recycling its own wastewater, harvesting rainwater, creating green space for water purification and food cultivation.
Researchers say the centralised, energy-intensive ‘big pipe’ solution used for the past 150 years to pump water from reservoirs into cities, and sewage to centralised treatment plants, often overlooks informal settlements. This has led to horrific health and social issues such as diarrhea killing 1,500 children a day globally.
The use of communal latrines, seepage into groundwater and faecal contamination pose a major health risk. The goal is to reduce exposure of communities to environmental faecal contamination by ensuring safer, more reliable water supplies and wastewater disposal.
The project will use a community-led design approach, encouraging local communities to develop water and sanitation services that work best for them. Beginning mid-2017, the team will spend two years working closely with the communities.