Sanitation System

The VPUU recently began their work under ISUP in Monwabisi Park. Their first project was constructing a kick-about (soccer field), which is available to be used by all residents of the settlement. They are in the process of installing their first facility next to the kick-about, which will hold VPUU offices to create an increased presence in Monwabisi Park. The VPUU will also offer public resources at the facility, including a reading room. There will be two toilets, two showers, and two basins installed in the new facility, introducing a need for a proper sanitation system. This need presented WPI, the University of Cape Town (UCT), and the City of Cape Town with the opportunity to continue their research on water and sanitation issues in informal settlements and to take the first step of implementing an innovative solution (Alex, et al., 2007; Granfone, et al., 2008; Donahue, et al., 2009; Nguyen, et al, 2010).

Developing a sanitation system within Cape Town’s informal settlements has proven to be a major public health and infrastructural challenge. While the City of Cape Town has made efforts to implement toilet systems throughout settlements, creating an effective, long lasting and sustainable solution has been problematic. Although the law states no more than five families are to share one toilet, there are toilets that are shared by up to 69 families within the settlement (Donahue, et al., 2009). The City of Cape Town sanitation facilities are currently near capacity and water shortages are expected within the next few years. The development of sustainable sanitation systems is thus desirable if all residents of informal settlements are to be provided with sufficient access to toilets and sanitation.

The VPUU facility will serve as a pilot site for the development of a sustainable sanitation system for informal settlements. The design of this system was based on an anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR); a non-powered, easily maintainable way to manage wastewater (Nguyen, et al., 2010; Ferraz, et al., 2009; Hammond and Tyson, 1991). These systems are an elaboration of a septic tank, and include baffles that provide multiple chambers within the tank. Using only gravity, water flows through these chambers, and in each more waste settles out, producing a cleaner effluent. Based on the success of this system, long-term goals consist of the expansion of these methods to include facilities that serve a greater number of residents throughout the settlement.

collaboration leach field (300x225)

To learn more about WPI’s past efforts in Water and Sanitation from 2008, and 2009.