Project Update


Objective: to protect the drinkwater quality of a borehole in Xai Xai due to nitrate influx of urine and to implement a proces to recover struvite and make compost from the urine and feces that is collected. For this an area of 500 metres from the borehole ( in a circle) is identified and all households within this area must get a leak free toilet. To see whether this approach is succesfull the nitrate level is monitored.

The start of the project started with a request from the municipality of Xai Xai and Fipag ( responsible for producing and distributing drinking water ) . The boreholes are created in the 70’s of previous century to deliver water to inhabitants of Xai Xai. Due to the extension of the town people built houses on top of the boreholes but without a sewering system most people built a pit latrine. These latrines causes the polution of the groundwater. To make new boreholes is very expensive and either the municipality or Fipag lacks the funds to do this. Easier and much cheaper is to make toilet leak free and let nature do its work and stop the pollution.

After long consultations the project starts with funding of VIA water in september 2017 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with 7 stakeholders.

The agreement was signed in september 2017 . From the project the inhabitants get the new leakproof toilet and together a place was appointed for the new toilet where it can be emptied by a pump wagen.

Two contractors where selected and they first had to proof to do it correct and built 10 toilets each. Difficult was the interference of the politicians; they first came up with contractors but these asked twice the amount as the other contractors.

The official start of the project was on 8 december 2017 with a special ceremony lead by a local spiritual leader. In this ceremony wine, maize flour and chickens are sacrificed to the local spirits and ask their cooperation make this project to a success.

Due to a new design of the compost and struvite machine we were able to make one pit instead of two for the original dry toilet ( to separate the urine and feces). This new machine is able to make struvite and compost ( sludge) from the collected stuff.

During the inventory together with the local leaders we could make a tailor made solution for each household. Some households had already a septic tank and flush toilet. We needed to be sure that this was leakproof. So we concluded that 100 households needed a new toilet and 44 we could adapt or renovate.

At this we point we where confronted with a hick up. Despite intense discussions on the project the local people refused to built the upper structure because most of them said they could not afford it. After consulting VIA Water and a visit from its manager ( D. Bouman ) we were able to ask for additional funds to have the upper structures built too from the project.

So in august 2018 we could continue with the project but of course we where delayed by it.

Meanwhile we constructed the struvite and compost machine in the Netherlands and have it send by container to Mozambique. The clearance of the machine was a bit difficult but with the assistance of the municipal officers we managed to do so and have it transported from Maputo to Xai Xai.

The machine consists of 3 big containers who stand next to each other and are connected. Most of the construction is underground. Building these underground pits ( 407 cm deep and 235 cm wide ) is locally contracted and done by manpower. A very heavy job but also needed to be done precise and with good planning. This was realized the second week of september.

Meanwhile the construction of the new toilets and renovating existing toilets in the project area continues. For this job we asked the same contractors who built the underground structures because they know for each household the specific demands and wishes. This is crucial because

we realize that to succeed we need to do what has been agreed with the inhabitants and involve them.

To monitor the nitrate level of the ground near the waterhole we also introduced a new system with cups on different levels. These cups send a signal and therefore this system is far more accurate and precise than the original one which consist of pipes of different lengths into the ground. With the original system we also had problems with an inhabitants who claimed he lost comfort due to the pipes in his front yard…