Exchange Visit to NVB Suriname
This exchange visit was organized with the financial support of Women for Water Partnership; in the context of member support mechanism
Earth Forever experts visited The Republic of Suriname from August 9 through August 22, 2009 to share their experience on the construction, safe operation and maintenance of Urine Diverting Toilet introduced by the Netherland Women Organisation (NVB), Suriname. The visit was focused on several maroon communities in the River Interior and two Amerindian communities in the old coast area. It was capped with presentations to various ministries and bodies in Paramaribo, the national capital.
At the Interior we observed, barring some minor defects, that the structures were of remarkable compact design involving adequate masonry and carpentry. There is excellent co-ordination work and supervision by the local co-ordinator, Captain Albert, who is one of the traditional leaders of these communities. From all indications, his success is facilitated and enhanced by his leadership-by-example principle, since he has already one of those ECOSAN toilets in his household. Earth Forever experts visited each of the ecosan structures and made recommendations for improvement of the construction work. We also shared experience on safe operation and maintenance, as well as safe treatment and re-use of treated sanitation products.
With regard to the Amerindian communities, the NVB, the initiators of the project, had at that moment finalised plans to commence work in this area. Consequently, the Earth Forever experts delivered presentations focused on the ECOSAN concept that included the toilet structure, the health and hygiene characteristics and the re-use of the waste products.
We observed that some few families were already operating the flush toilet system but this situation did not seem to douse any possibility of increased enthusiasm for the ECOSAN system. In fact we noticed many positive signs of ECOSAN acceptability in this community. We made recommendations for improved methodology of construction of ECOSAN structures. So, there and then, we recommended a training of constructors to fit the imperatives of these requirements.
The other half of our visit was devoted to making multimedia presentations to stakeholders at various levels in Paramaribo. These presentations focused on the ECOSAN concept and illustrative examples with Bulgaria as a case study. The presentations included also the environmental, health and hygiene implications, maintenance and re-use. Our audiences included the Ministry of Health (with the Minister himself, the Permanent Secretary and key staff in attendance), the Ministry of Environment (with the Permanent Secretary and other key staff in attendance), the Public Health Department (with the Director of Public Health in attendance); we had two training sessions for the Steering Committee members of the NVB, its staff and donors, NGOs, NVB partners, and government personnel.
Finally, we had a working meeting with the ECOSAN Steering Committee, chaired by the NVB chairperson. Furthermore, we participated in the legal issues that would form the background for a national legislation on the ECOSAN concept.