Benefits, issues and status of WATSAN systems - A survey of an IDWM project supported by Arghyam

This paper presents the results of a survey of WATSAN systems implemented under an Integrated Domestic Water Management (IDWM) project supported by Arghyam and implemented by MYRADA and MYKAPS in Bangarpet and H D Kote blocks of Kolar district of Karnataka. Arghyam has promoted Roof-top Rain Water Harvesting (RRWH) and eco-sanitation systems in its various project areas through its partner organizations.

This project aimed at developing an integrated approach to domestic water management. It focused on construction of RRWH and eco-sanitation toilets in four villages in the project area in Kolar with the aim of creating models of integrated management of domestic water and sanitation in a rural set-up.

The survey report reviews the status of functioning of these systems and offers an analysis of the benefits and limitations. The idea was to learn from the findings and modify the strategy for addressing water and sanitation issues.

The key learning’s from the survey are -

  • Around 60 per cent RRWH and 84 per cent eco-san systems are functional. With regard to RRWH around 59 per cent units had water in tank though some problems were observed in the quality of tanks leading to leakage.
  • It was found that some tanks became defunct owing to -
    • Blockages in filter because of inability to ensure clean pipes;
    • Broken tap;
    • Poor maintenance practices such as irregular cleaning of roof/filter materials/tank;
  • The need of improving on these aspects through capacity building and hand-holding activities in the communities was emphasized.
  • With regard to eco-san, even though 84 per cent are in use only 50 per cent of them (pits) are filled up at least once. Also, even though 92 per cent of the systems constructed 3 or more years ago are functioning till date, they are not in regular/proper use with the result that only 56 per cent of them (pits) are filled up at least once.
  • Only 17.5 per cent households have applied manure to their fields.
  • 51 per cent of the total surveyed households prefer common toilets over ecosan while only 47 per cent like to use eco-san.
  • Many of the suggestions were regarding the design of the system -
    • The system should be installed on ground level for the ease of older as well as younger people;
    • The distance between two pits should be higher;
    • Menstruating women find it difficult to use the system;
    • The present system necessitates the usage of water in the place of defecation. There is a need to include a bigger urine pipe.
  • The report observes that maintenance protocols have yet to be strongly imbibed in the communities for using the systems sustainably. Usage of eco-san properly entails among other things putting the right amount of ash, not letting water into the pit, leaving the pit for proper period for decomposition once it fills up.
  • More awareness creation and hand-holding on how and when to use urine and manure could also be given attention to.

Download the report here:


Post By: Amita Bhaduri