Science for Sustainability: Decentralized Waster Water System for Sustainable Sanitation

Science for Sustainability: Decentralized Waster Water System for Sustainable Sanitation

Anu Karippal

ATREE in collaboration with researchers from James Hutton Institute, IISc, and others has developed a sustainable sanitation system for a local school in Berambadi at Gundlupet, Karnataka.

This one of a kind decentralized waste water system is based on active participation of school children, teachers, villagers, the Panchayat, and other NGOs. This interdisciplinary project funded by the Scottish Government aims to address the challenges associated with creating a sustainable sanitation system in rural Karnataka.

The project applies science and social science to design long term sustainable sanitation solutions in rural Karnataka. This system is designed to treat and reuse grey water from the kitchen in the school’s toilet block. The black water is treated using multiple steps before being let out into constructed wetlands. The system is designed to maximise the use of solar power and gravity flows to reduce the need for electricity.

From the inception of the project, major stakeholders aided in understanding issues related to the old toilet system. They were instrumental in addressing how the new system could be designed to meet local needs. Multiple creative activities and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted to understand how the system could be made desirable for children. The community will be involved in monetary and non-monetary maintenance of the system.The project imparts technical knowledge to the community so that they can maintain the system without any requirement of expertise from outside.

The project by stringing various knowledge systems together, brings Science and people together. It ensures that people execute their agency, feel a sense of ownership, and work towards a sustainable solution to deal with issues like poor sanitation in schools.