Nature-based solutions for inclusive waste management in Ethiopia

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Wetlands area showing greenery and orange flowers

Poor wastewater treatment is a pressing issue around the world

Astonishingly, more than 80% of the wastewater generated is dumped into the environment without being treated properly, according to the UN. As a result, 3 out of 10 individuals still lack access to safe drinking water and 6 out of 10 lack access to secure sanitation facilities. Furthermore, around 1,000 children around the world die due to diarrheal diseases from contaminated water each day. WASTE is tackling part of this challenge, particularly with success in Ethiopia, with accessible nature-based solutions to safely manage human waste treatment and reuse.

Constructed wetlands: A natural, low-tech solution for faecal sludge management

Ethiopia is currently facing serious waste management issues, both on faecal sludge management and wastewater. Access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation are hard to approach for approximately 100 million people in Ethiopia. Moreover, it is estimated that diseases can be prevented up to 80% if environmental sanitation is improved. Partnering to address this issue, particularly in Shashamane, WASTE has worked with Ecofyt and local partners to support the development and construction of wetlands to create a safe treatment site for faecal sludge treatment.

The old wastewater management in Shashamane is insufficient to deal with current needs. That is why our constructed wetlands initiative is a promising addition to the community. The constructed wetland system facilitates three main activities-

  1. First, the collected wastewater is transferred to a septic tank for faeces and sludge division.
  2. Then, the wastewater goes through the constructed wetlands and is purified and cleaned by planted, locally available swamp plants that can naturally filter waste.
  3. Finally, the wastewater is stored in the control sump for quality check before discharging.

This design is simple yet effective, borrowing from natural processes to manufacture a waste treatment site that can be locally constructed and operated, with the ability to be custom-designed to various geographies, it is cost-effective and is a sustainable option.

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The orange flowers show where the natural solution has been implemented and helped transform the area.

One of many accessible solutions

Constructed wetlands are just one example of a tried and tested solution we are working with right now. It is one foundational technology that WASTE supports its partners to develop—one of many in our portfolio building accessible and sustainable solutions for waste[water] issues. With nature-based solutions at the fore, together with our partners around the world, we are working to ensure a greener and cleaner future.

Join us

Want to know more about our work on nature-based solutions and waste management in Ethiopia? Get in touch with WASTE adviser and technical lead, Henock Belete Asfaw, for more information.

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