Waterproof septic tanks for improved sanitation and hygiene in Sri Lanka
The severe floods that hit Sri Lanka in May 2016 caused toilet-waste to overflow in the streets of urban areas in Colombo and Gampaha districts. In response, ACTED is implementing a four-month project, funded by UNICEF and entitled “Safe Excreta Disposal for Flood-Affected Households with Improved Septic Tanks”, consisting of the installation of waterproof septic tanks, along with soakage pits, in 350 affected households.
As a result, the beneficiaries will be able to use their latrines again. More generally, this project aims at reducing the impact of future floods by providing the appropriate equipment and ensuring that affected families will be better prepared to face these disasters. As such, the intervention will be coupled with an awareness campaign to help these families understand the utility of the septic tanks, basic sanitation and hygiene practices, and Disaster Risk Reduction measures.
Improved sanitation facilities, combined with increased knowledge and awareness on sanitation practices, will improve the overall sanitary conditions, and ultimately lead to a decrease of waterborne diseases among the population.
Keeping in mind ACTED’s commitment to ensuring the sustainability of its programmes, the septic tanks will insure that there is no leakage of latrine waste in the environment, even in case of recurrent disasters, leading to improved sanitation in the long-term. The awareness campaign on the utility of a septic tank and its maintenance procedure will increase the beneficiaries’ buy-in, thereby ensuring that the tank remains in good condition over its lifespan.
Furthermore, the installation of septic tanks and the awareness campaign are supervised by Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) from the Ministry of Health, thereby allowing for ownership of the project by the government and therefore ensuring its long-term sustainability.