Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems for a Commune and Primary School: BORDA-Cambodia DEWATS Projects in Cambodia

The Bremen Overseas Research and Development Agency (BORDA) has a mission to improve the living conditions of disadvantaged communities and to preserve the environment through decentralized sanitation projects. As part of this mission, the Agency has developed modular, decentralized, and cost-effective wastewater treatment service packages that they have termed ‘DEWATS’ – decentralized wastewater treatment systems, which, with the help of funding agencies, are being installed throughout Asia and Africa. Water and sanitation are one of the most pressing issues facing people in rural Cambodia. Of particular difficulty for sanitation advocates in Cambodia is the old habit of open defecation, with the result of exposing human excreta to the environment. This leads to water and soil contamination and to widespread disease outbreaks. The UN estimated that, in 2008, only 23% of rural residents and 82% of urban residents had access to improved sanitation, which means the country still has a long way to go to achieving ‘sanitation for all’. With this in mind, BORDA recently established itself in the country, as BORDA-Cambodia. The Agency has completed three projects in Cambodia to date, two of which share the same technology package and are outlined here. The first area chosen for DEWATS was the Trapeang Sab Commune, in Takeo Province. In this commune, the main town was rapidly urbanizing and its traditional sanitation practices were no longer effective. This untreated wastewater being released in increasing volumes in the commune was becoming a hindrance to development because of groundwater pollution and public health issues. The second area chosen for DEWATS was the Chroy Chang Va Primary School in Phnom Penh. This school was suffering from a very poor septic tank for its wastewater, which was bottomless and cracked, causing groundwater pollution and allowing rainy season flood water to mix in with the wastewater and spread across the school grounds. As well, while the school technically had 13 toilet facilities for its population of over 1000 students, only 3 were in working condition. The health and groundwater risks to the schoolchildren and surrounding residents were therefore very high.

This teaching case is available here.

Published by Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

Cambodia, PoliticsNYSEAN