A people-centred approach to sustainable sanitation and wastewater management, water supply and environmental protection - Women in Europe for a Common Future






A people-centred approach to sustainable sanitation and wastewater management, water supply and environmental protection

Regional Round Tabel in Khobi, Georgia

On November 4, 2015, a regional round table was organized in Khobi by Rural Communities Development Agency (RCDA) in cooperation with WECF (Women in Europe for a Common Future) and Khobi Municipality.

The event took place in the frame of the project  “Reducing the pollution of the  Black Sea by introducing Sustainable Wastewater and Nutrient Management“ funded by UNEP which encompasses a set of sustainable technologies being implemented and demonstrated in two villages in Khobi municipality in order to improve living conditions in the rural villages and to protect the Black Sea.

The head of the municipality Gogi Jobava and first Deputy Governor of the Samegrelo- Zemo Svaneti Region Kakha Rusia very much welcomed the round table and the project partners efforts, especially the engagement of RCDA through their Western Georgian resource center in Khamiskhuri.

Head of Khobi municipality

The first project results were presented by Bistra Mihaylova (WECF) and Nino Gamisonia (RCDA). The villagers very well understand and accept the sustainable technologies, ecological sanitation, greywater treatment and animal manure management. Prior to the round table, the UNEP representative Birguy Lamizana from Nairobi, Kenya, visited the two project villages Chalididi and Khorga.

Farm with newly installed Ecosan toilet and solar water heater

For the large majority of drinking water wells and small scale piped water supplies, the quality of the drinking water is not tested and it is often unsafe to drink. Since the institution for sanitary inspection was dissolved, there no longer exist institutional structures responsible for the quality of drinking water from small scale water supplies. Lilia Stepanets, RCDA, shared the experience made with the mobile water laboratories which WECF brought and trained on. She underlined the critical situation in many rural areas. A school teacher Marina Kiria did local capacity building on water and sanitation safety planning and did a number of simple water tests with nitrate test sticks. A number of unsafe sources were identified and people raised awareness about the situation.

Lilia Stepanets, RCDA explaining the water analyses

Many discussions followed as the safety of the drinking water is a crucial issue for the population. Claudia Wendland, WECF, introduced the global perspective of water and sustainable development  and the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She highlighted that the new SDGs will take water quality into account: under target 6.1, the drinking water quality will be monitored. Innovative is to look at the inequalities in the country under the SDGs, which is an important aspect for Georgia as there is an increasing gap between access to water and sanitation between the richest and poorest population. Target 6.3 under the water goal is also new and looks at the wastewater management in the country.

Priorities for wastewater management

Wastewater has become an important working area for UNEP: Birguy Lamizana presented the Global Wastewater Initiative (GW2I) launched by UNEP as a multiple stakeholder platform in order to address wastewater management, prompt coordinated action and encourage new investments in the sector. The GW2I aims to increase priorities for wastewater management in world water politics, to prevent further pollution and damage and emphasize that wastewater is a valuable resource for future water security. The first model project under this initiative has been implemented in the two project villages at the Black Sea in Georgia and demonstrates the holistic approach towards sanitation and wastewater management.

Presenters and organisers of the round table (Birguy Lamizana, Claudia Wendland, Bistra Mihaylova, Lilia Stepanets, Marina Kiria , Anna Samwel, Nino Gamisonia)

It was discussed how to further upscale the project and to best follow up. There are many more villages interested in these technologies, more than 10 mayors and representatives of 11 municipalities were present at the round table and ready to spread the technologies in their regions.
The head of Khobi municipality promised to further support the activities actively and financially and to promote the project follow up.

 The Dutch embassy also bestowed their attention towards the project. The Dutch ambassador and the Georgian Minister of Environment, Gigla Agulashvili were bort present and addressed the importance of environmental sustainability. This was briefly mentioned in the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Tiblisi's newletter.

More information:
Bistra Mihaylova, WECF project manager
Rostom Gamisonia, RCDA executive director
Anna Samwel, WECF head of office Georgia
Claudia Wendland, WECF water and sanitation expert