Decentralised sustainable sanitation and gender mainstreaming in Sucre, Bolivia

May 2016

News

One of Bolivia's priorities is ensuring access to water and sanitation services for all by 2025. Such a challenge requires the spread of unconventional options, and this is exactly what the Decentralised Sustainable Sanitation Project (DSS) in Sucre (funded by the Swedish Embassy) is doing.

Rather than adopting a purely technical approach, the project has a holistic vision for ecological sanitation, consisting of five elements: demand generation, technology and construction, operational, social and institutional management, resource re-use and social strategy. The interventions are scalable at country level and are based on strategic partnerships among public, private and social stakeholders, ensuring the sustainability of the implemented systems. The project is in line with the Municipal Government´s priority to bring decentralised sanitation services (ecological toilets) to people living in the sub-urban areas. In addition, it takes an innovative approach through the use of ecological dry toilet technologies, for which a new type of separator of Swedish origin is used.

A gender perspective

The project has developed a multi-stakeholder management model, with the Ciudad Blanca Association being one of the partners in the value chain. The association consists of women collectors who have been hired by the municipality of Sucre to collect the resources from 50 dry toilets in Juchuy Barranca and transport them to Barranca Center for appropriate treatment. Contracting the association's services was a crucial aspect of the project because of the women's previous experience. They have been trained in the field of organic resources and have extensive experience in solid waste collection. This approach is novel in the country and in addition to generating employment, it promotes gender equality in the sanitation sector. “This is a task we take with great responsibility, because with so many years in the field of collection we know that our work contributes to the environment”.

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Thus, in addition to its knowledge sharing role, the DSS project develops environmentally-friendly technologies that meet fundamental human rights to sanitation: accessibility, affordability and acceptability. It also carries out capacity building programmes in an attempt to improve the governance and governability of implemented systems and cooperates with academia in order to include the DSS subject in university programmes throughout the country.