A range of ecosystem restoration measures can be taken to support WASH services and livelihoods:
- Combining water and land management
- Protect critical mountain slopes, wetlands and forests to maintain springs and control soil erosion. For example by tree planting and stone stacking.
- Demarcate wetlands to prevent encroachment. Provide compensation to affected families with alternative livelihood options
- Allocate specific spaces for specific uses, such as water fetching, washing, harvesting of reeds and medical plants
- Remove siltation
- Addressing pollution
- Implement point-source pollution treatment and prevention plans. For example replace leaky latrines and strategically relocate them to avoid any contamination of clean water sources.
- Develop financial, legal and institutional incentives for non-point source pollution prevention, for example Payment for Ecosystems
- Conserving biodiversity
- Maintain or restore habitats of (freshwater) species by allocating ‘recovery’ places within the ecosystem - meaning agreed spaces with no human interaction where fauna can mate, breed and forage.
- Introduce vegetation and species that are sympathetic to the water quality and quantity.
Rain Water Harvesting: Recharge, Retention, Reuse
Recharge, Retain, Reuse (3R) of rainwater is one sustainable and environmentally friendly way to provide people with water. 3R allows you to use the catchment itself as a buffer to store water without having to apply expensive and environmentally unfriendly technical solutions. 3R stands for the three elements required to store, manage and utilise water:
- Recharging water involves the application of techniques for restoring groundwater levels through letting rainwater penetrate back into the ground.
- Retaining water involves storing rainwater to ensure that the water does not flow away, but is captured in the area and made available when needed.
- Re-using rainwater involves using and re-using water for multiple purposes.
Learn more about 3R in the online booklet Be Buffered.
Check out Rain is Gain, the rainwater harvesting guide for sustainable water supply, and find an overview of different 3R techniques.
Also have a look at the Rainwater Harvesting Wiki.
Reduce, Re-use, Recycle of Waste (Flows)
Incorporating Reduce, Re-use and Recycle practices in your WASH project can help you to:
- Reduce contamination and spillage
- Recycle waste and sewage
- Re-use waste and sewage water flows
A model called Integrated Sustainable Waste Management (ISWM) can help you to turn your Reduce, Re-use and Recycle ideas into practice. What does ISWM do?
- It promotes technically appropriate, economically viable and socially acceptable waste management solutions that do not degrade the environment.
- It promotes the development of a waste management system that best suits the society, economy and environment in a specific location.
- It provides a practical tool to look more in-depth at the actual needs of the people. This way, it helps local governments and their technical staff to go beyond the simple importation of Northern waste management models, systems and technologies.
Low Cost, Low Maintenance and Environmentally Friendly Technologies
When dealing with water and sanitation, a wide range of technologies are at hand. To choose the right technology, you need to take into account the outcome of your landscape assessment. Depending on this outcome, a combination of natural and man-made solutions can be selected. At the same time, it is important to consider the costs, maintenance requirements and environmental friendliness of the technologies. Choosing sustainable drinking water and sanitation technologies requires awareness on the following five aspects:
- The costs of the technologies. It is wise to make use of options that can be locally financed and that are already available on the local market.
- The availability of specific low maintenance technologies and the maintenance capacities of local mechanics or plumbers.
- The risks of groundwater depletion. With today’s sophisticated extraction technologies, the risk of pumping too much water increases significantly.
- The location of your project, to reduce the chances of water contamination. For instance, by placing sanitation systems downstream from human settlements and upstream from agricultural activities, you can avoid possible drinking water contamination and reuse the waste flows for agriculture fertiliser.
- Protection of springs and wells from pollution from their immediate surroundings. You can think of protecting their surroundings from normal runoff and during floods; keeping animal husbandry and latrines at a distance of drinking water; or launching waste management initiatives.
The WaterCompass can help you further with making informed decisions on low cost, low maintenance and environmental friendly water methods for your project. It comprises more than 70 sustainable technologies.