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Habitat Observatory

    Water is Life, Sanitation is Dignity
  Bhattedanda village is located 30km east from Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. There are about 400 Tamang ethnic group tribals living in this village. Daily lives of the villagers are taken up with farming for a largely subsistence existence. Water is accessed at communal tap points and water shortages are common. Houses do not have the luxury of bathrooms or taps. During 2006 there were five toilets in 70 houses in the village. Villagers were forced to go to the fields. In the name of a toilet, they used a hole in the ground with a plastic sheet providing makeshift shelter and limited privacy. Preliminary testing of water quality done in 2007 showed the water to be of poor quality containing fecal coliforms.

In 2007 with a vision to upgrade the water and sanitation amenities, the Community Health Development Society (CHDS), Nepal and the Rotary Club of Dee Why Warringah developed a toilet sanitation program. Health Habitat Pty Ltd (HH) supported this program with the necessary expertise and funding.

The Sree Tamang Village Environment Development Committee (STVEDC) was formed to help the agencies in the Total Sanitation Program. The program aimed to provide every villager in Bhattedande with the ability to dispose of waste safely. The toilet building design was developed in consultation with STVEDC and CHDS. Health Habitat developed drawings to communicate the design. The construction process used building techniques and materials that were regularly available and familiar to the local team.

Construction and installation of toilets for approximately 70 households was undertaken as a major task under this project along with awareness and education on sanitation and hygiene. Toilet structures were constructed as an external unit to the existing houses. A rainwater tank was installed to collect water run off from the roof. The water from the tank on the toilet was intended for dip flushing, hand washing and cleaning the toilet.

A septic tank was installed in more than 60% of the toilets. The nutrient rich effluent produced through a septic treatment system was used in the fields to enhance productivity of the crops. Biogas plants were also established for families with large enough land possession to hold all the waste of human toilets and buffaloes.

Since the project started, there has been a noted decrease in the incidence of preventable diseases and infection, particularly in children. The toilets have added to the dignity and pride of the villagers as the social status of families has increased among peers and people of the nearby villages.

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    Solar Powered Floating Boats - Transforming Lives in Bangladesh
  Every year during monsoon time, one-third of the land in Bangladesh goes under floodwater. Scientists predict that 17 percent of the land in Bangladesh will disappear by 2050 on account of climate change. Global warming has increased the magnitude of flooding in the past few years. School dropout rates have increased tremendously as children cannot go to school during the monsoon season due to flooding. Access to timely medical help is also a big problem in this area.

Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, a not for profit organisation has introduced solar-powered floating boats to empower the communities through information sharing and education. These boats make their way through the rivers, docking at villages to teach farmers about affordable technologies and environmentally sustainable agriculture, climate change adaptation techniques, solar products, healthcare and human rights.

Five boats have been functioning as mobile healthcare units providing free health care to more than 300 villagers every day. These health care boats have doctors and paramedics on board equipped with necessary medicines which are given free to the patients as per their needs.

About 20 boats have been transformed into mobile schools that move from village to village conducting classes for rural children. All the boats have a small library, internet linked laptops, printers and mobile phones.

Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha also introduced a solar lantern made from conventional recycled parts of a kerosene lantern. These lamps have provided families with high-quality light in the evening and people save on the cost of kerosene. The lamp batteries can be charged at charging stations of the mobile boat schools and other training boats. The villagers bring their batteries to re-charge on the boats twice a week and pay US $0.073 for every re-charge. Fifty percent of the income generated from battery charging is directed towards Shidhulai operational costs and expansion, and the rest goes back to the community in the form of school, library and healthcare support.

These mobile boats provide practical advice and education that help villagers learn to help themselves. Proximity of the resources has motivated parents to send their children, particularly girls to learn and study. It has generated considerable enthusiasm, interest and local involvement. This mobile boat model demonstrates that information technology and ingenuity, when aligned and developed with community needs and expertise, can help meet some of the most basic human needs and improve people’s lives.

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