The main problem when it comes to environmental challenges within WASH, is the unsustainable use of water resources, especially over-abstraction, leading to depletion of scarce water resources and loss of natural water- and ecosystems. In addition, discharge of waste flows lead to further depletion of water resources quality. Another challenge is the current lack of WASH interventions that can adapt to the impact of climate change.
From the perspective of environmental sustainability, our services therefore take into account how WASH strategies and interventions connect to the natural environment (ecosystems and natural resources). And in return how the status of the natural environment affects the availability and quality of WASH services. We do this by integrating the following environmental sustainability approaches:
When partners under the Dutch WASH Alliance Programme select their areas for WASH interventions, they first execute an assessment of the hydrological, ecological and socio-economic situation of the (smallest) relevant catchment level in which the intervention takes place. This way water flows and community needs can be understood from a landscape perspective taking to account relevant upstream and downstream connections.
Why? This way WASH interventions can be planned and located at the best suitable place in the landscape tapping in on known and optimized water resources (f.e. through 3R techniques) and it is known how the natural water- and ecosystems will deal with (reduced) wasteflows. Further, best informed decisions can be made regarding technology choices. Such catchment assessments also identify the particular resources and services of the natural environment upon which the community depends and therefore ensures that WASH interventions are planned in such a way that these resources and services are maintained.