Sustainable Sanitation for Rural Bulgaria

Sustainable Sanitation for Rural Bulgaria

Bulgaria
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Protecting environment and closing cycle of nutrients by introduction of dry urine-diversion toilets and planted soil filters as a substitute to pit latrines and soak-aways.

About You
Location
Project Street Address
Project City
Project Province/State
Project Postal/Zip Code
Project Country
Your idea
Field of Work

Sanitation

Year the initative began (yyyy)

2005

Positioning of your initiative on the mosaic diagram:
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Public information alone doesn’t change behaviors

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Move people up the sanitation ladder

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic

The most important barrier we identified in our long-term work in sanitation and our efforts to introduce sustainable sanitation on larger scale in rural Bulgaria is the lack of access to adequate funding.
There is enormous potential for governments to raise funding and implement infrastructural projects - usually without any community work and involvement.
At the same time locally and globally, there is not financial mechanisms available for bottom-up infrastructural community initiatives. NGOs, like our, have develop capacity to play catalitic role for sustainable sanitation initiatives developed and implemented with the direct involvement of the communities - users, maintainers and up-scalers of such infrastructure.
Communities as a rule go for affordable infrastructure - both in the phase of construction and the phase of maintenance; making their choice they pose important role on environmental protection of their own community and health and food safety. And they cannot have access to public money - in Bulgaria or EU, to meet their demand of improved sanitation.
Instead of this public money easily go to very large infrastructural projects - often serving only the interest of large international companies. These same companies, agressively promote one and the same type of technologies that had proved globally to be unsustainable and extremely expensive.

Innovation
What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

Protecting environment and closing cycle of nutrients by introduction of dry urine-diversion toilets and planted soil filters as a substitute to pit latrines and soak-aways.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

n Bulgaria there is no information about any alternative technologies for human waste and wastewater treatment. The only practices in use are pit latrines for rural areas and sewers – for the urban. Our NGO works to disseminate information about various alternative technologies for sustainable management of human wastes and domestic wastewater – urine-diverting toilets, planted filters, mulch filters, biogas installations, composting and vermicomposting. Unlike many other actors in the field, we apply holistic and system approach always. In our pilot infrastructure, we close both the cycle of nutrients and the water cycle (safe treatment – safe reuse in agriculture). Our projects include always both ‘soft’ measures and ‘hard’ measures. We do not only build model infrastructure, we build local capacity for maintenance, monitoring and scaling up. We involve local actors from the very beginning (local government, schools, cultural and religious institutions, business, medical experts, NGOs, households) educating them to take informed decisions from the planning phase through implementation, monitoring and assessment phase for community ownership.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?

We start with large number of probable target communities and households – with information dissemination, training. We are patient for them to learn enough to feel confident and take informed decisions about the technology to be implemented as they are going to be the users, to maintain and scale-up the infrastructure after the closure of the project activities. In this way, we star building model infrastructure in 30%-40% of initial target communities, the others will be ready to start implementing in our next.

How do you plan to expand your innovation?

Initially we started working with one municipality and started constructing the model sustainable sanitation infrastructures in one village community. In the next project, we added 4 more villages. In the forth project, within last 3 years, we build the capacity to work in 10 villages in 3 municipalities in Bulgaria. The huge demand for better sanitation is there - in all 5,400 villages in the country.
Our next goal is scaling-up in two directions: 1) we are ready to educate new communities for the benefits of sustainable sanitation and build pilot infrastructure there, and 2) we are aiming to raise finances to be able to cover fully one pilot community – offering each household the type of sustainable sanitation most fitting their specific physical and cultural needs. This is credible way to demonstrate fully the social, economic, environmental, health, etc. benefits of sustainable sanitation.

Do you have any existing partnerships, and if so, how do you create them?

Our NGO works with both local and international partners. Our partners are NGOs, local governments, governmental institutions, universities and schools, rural cultural institutions, well-known experts, businesses, etc. in sanitation, hygienic, environmental, water and water sector. Our partnerships start in the framework of joint efforts to improve sanitation and environment in some very concrete situation and develop into long-term partnerships.
Some of our best internationally known partners are: Women in Europe for a Common Future - Germany, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council - Geneva, NGO Mama – 86 – Ukraine, Women for Water Partnership, International Secretariat of Water – Montreal, Freshwater Action Network, NGO Terra – Moldova, Technical University Hamburg – TUHH, Germany, Thracian University – Bulgaria, EcoSanRes, etc.

Impact
Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

Sustainable sanitation we bring to communities protects human health and environment, respects human dignity, reduces poverty, empowers remote rural communities and households, develops democracy.

What are the main barriers to creating or achieving your impact?

• Difficult access to adequate financial support
• Lack of information adapted to local language and to community language
• Need to overcome some superstitions of population as far as re-use of treated human sanitation products in agriculture

How many people have you served or plan to serve?

Since 2005, we have managed to work within 4 communities in Bulgaria, and we are starting now to work in 10 more rural communities with information dissemination, training and constructing pilot infrastructure.
In the implementation of all these projects we used the multistakeholder approach involving local people – rural mayors, experts, schools, cultural, religious, health institutions, CBOs and households, but also local governments, municipal officers, municipal and regional institutions, ministries of Health, Agriculture, Regional Development, Environment and Health.
We are implementing direct work with local children and youth, rural grannies and citizen groups; involve municipal and regional experts and institutions in advisory boards; organize international events in partnership with various ministries, etc. and all this is done within the framework of one and the same project.
Our sustainable sanitation projects also are multisectoral and we gather together people from water and wastewater, solid waste, health, education, governance, legislation; academicians, experts, politicians and ordinary village people who sit on one table and participate in small group work.

Directly

The most people benefit from our information dissemination and training efforts – governmental and local experts and decision-makers, academicians and teachers, rural children and youth, households. We train the whole community where we implement a project about safe management of human and animal excreta, composting, safe re-use of treated materials, safety measures to protect and monitor drinking water quality. Our activities from 2005 to 2008 cover some 24 000 people.
Some 215 people develop specific skills that guarantee jobs and income based on the project implementation and further scaling-up – training of trainers, construction of new technologies.
24 households gained new sanitation infrastructure and drastically improved sanitation facilities (with their contribution); 6 rural schools and rural cultural centers gained hygienic sustainable sanitation directly benefiting some 1100 consumers.

Indirectly

From 2005 to 2009 our effort to disseminate information about existing hygienic affordable sustainable sanitation technologies reaches 3 municipalities in Bulgaria with some 360 000 people. The potential beneficiaries are 75% of Bulgarians – some 5 500 000 people who live in rural areas or own a house in rural areas, which has no access to adequate sanitation.
We are aiming to change the attitude to sanitation of the society in Bulgaria as a whole, and promote the concept that sanitation is not a dirty word, sanitation is directly influencing human dignity; sustainable sanitation is a modern concept to be implemented broadly.

Please list any other measures of the impact of your innovation?

Lack of adequate sanitation and waste management drives young people out of rural areas. Young people choose to live in a tiny rented apartment in the city rather than large family houses in the rural area some 10-20 km away from the large city. Rural population is aging. Results are closure of village schools, lack of business initiative and labor in rural areas, and forms a vicious circus contributing to the overpopulating and extremely polluting large cities and emptying the rural areas.

Is there a policy intervention element to your innovation, if so please describe?

Our work targets also the decision-makers at local, regional, national and EU level. Last year, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture and Health we organized a very successful workshop in Sofia with presentations of world-known experts and academicians from Sweden, Finland, The Netherlands, Germany, Ukraine, Armenia. In January 2008, a high-level conference was organized with our partners from Women in Europe for a Common Future and Romanian partners with the participation of high-level EU officers to lobby for EU regulation encouraging sustainable sanitation and alternative sanitation technologies in rural areas of EU. With our partners, we are preparing high-level events for Stockholm Water Week 2008 and World Water Summit 2009.

Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

Rural communities - households, schools, cultural centers are direct beneficiaries of our work.
Special attention is paid to rural children and youth as their health is mostly endangered by bad sanitation infrastructure and low hygienic services in their households, rural schools and kindergartens. This is especially valid for Roma children
Another important target group are elderly women as they are taking most important decisions at family level as far as health measures, hygiene and sanitation practices, preparation of food, child care.

Sustainability
How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

We are working on project base, applying with project proposals to various donors. Successful proposal were made to MATRA Program of Dutch government, Swiss Agency for International Development, USIAD, private foundations (e.g. Fondation Ensemble), UN Programs, foreign embassies, local authorities. We have sent new proposals to MATRA, also to EU funding mechanisms – EuroAid, as well as European Economic Area and Norwegian grant programs.

Provide information on your finances and organization:

For 2005-2007 the organization implemented sustainable sanitation projects for 250 000 Euro. For 2008-2010, we have ensured 220 000 Euro for sustainable sanitation projects - we still need co-funding of 120 000 Euro to be able to implement fully our projects until 2010.

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

The potential demand is very high as Bulgaria has to meet very strict requirements for sanitation and solid waste standards by 2014. Our NGO has the capacity to cover about 20% of the population that needs to make active efforts to improve their sanitation and wastewater facilities – some 1 100 000 people. We need 14 full-time staff members – 5 very highly qualified managers and 9 highly qualified experts; and 30 part-time coordinators; 600 volunteers in some 30 rural communities in Bulgaria.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

It is the project based approach for funding, we are forced to use in our situation. We never had the opportunity to apply for significant funds to guarantee the implementation of a complete program. We are working piece-by-piece applying with many tiny project to various donors. This underutilizes our capacity and makes uncertain time and impact planning of our efforts. We managed to be in the sanitation sector since 1998 implementing interruptedly projects without core funding to sustain our existence.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

Since 1998, Earth Forever Foundation has started working for improved school and rural sanitation in Bulgaria on mutltistakeholder platform, involving local people – rural mayors, experts, schools, cultural, religious, health institutions, CBOs and households; local governments, municipal officers, municipal and regional institutions; ministries of Health, Agriculture, Regional Development, Environment and Health.
Our sustainable sanitation projects are multisectoral. We gather together people from water and wastewater, solid waste, health, education, governance, legislation; academicians, experts, politicians and ordinary village people.
In Bulgaria the only practices in sanitation use are pit latrines for rural areas and soak-aways (some 65% of the population) and sewers in largest urban agglomerations.
Our NGO works to disseminate information about various alternative technologies for sustainable management of human wastes and domestic wastewater – urine-diverting toilets, planted filters, mulch filters, biogas installations, composting and vermicomposting, etc. Unlike many other actors in the field, we apply holistic and system approach always. In our pilot infrastructure, we close both the cycle of nutrients and the water cycle (safe treatment – safe reuse in agriculture). Our projects include always both ‘soft’ measures and ‘hard’ measures. We do not only build model infrastructure, we build local capacity for maintenance, monitoring and scaling up. We involve local actors from the very beginning (local government, schools, cultural and religious institutions, business, medical experts, NGOs, households) educating them to take informed decisions from the planning phase through implementation, monitoring and assessment phase for community ownership and sustainability.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

Mrs. Iskreva’s career has been associated with Bulgarian NGO sector since its dawn in 1989.
In 1998 she became the founder and leader of Earth Forever Foundation and works for improved sanitation and environment.
Diana is BSc in Physical Geography, MSc in Geosystem management, MSc in Ecological Agriculture, MSc in Environmental Management, Control and Health, MSc in European Studies.
She has been member of the Board of Bulgarian Society for Education and Culture, Democracy Network Program, WSSCC, International Secretariat for Water, SEE, WECF.