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WECF-partner from Moldova wins UN “Water for Life Best Practice Award”

The UN has just presented the award to Oleg Rotari and Ormax for their project “Safe Water and sanitation for Everyone in Moldova” in The Hague

22.03.2013 |Chantal van den Bossche

The Hague, 22nd March 2013 – As part of their official ceremony for World Water Day in The Hague, The United Nations has just announced Oleg Rotari and the NGO Ormax as winner of the “Water for Life Best Practice Award”. Ormax is a local Partner of WECF in Moldova and has helped realizing the award-winning project “Safe Water for Everyone in Moldova”. The prize falls into the second category,” Best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practices.” WECF and all partners are pleased about the good news and appreciate that the award will further stimulate the project’s growth.

In the Republic of Moldova, 30% of the population lives below the poverty line, with especially high poverty in rural areas. The majority of the rural population (75%) has no access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The vast majority uses pit latrines as toilets (a hole in the ground with a little shed over it). Moreover, most wells are not or only poorly maintained, allowing the groundwater to be infiltrated by human and animal feces. Groundwater thus often is highly contaminated with bacteria and nitrate. The local population has usually little knowledge about the quality of their own water and sanitation, its links to the sources of pollution, its risks to health and alternative solutions. Due to the high poverty in Moldova, innovative and sustainable solutions are needed which have to be adjusted to the specific situations in the rural areas.

Led by WECF, Ormax has tackled the problem in a broadly participatory and integrated manner. The support for the project’s piloting demonstration work was very high, from the local population as well as the local authorities. The Project was financed by the Foundation Danielle Mitterand-France Libertés and Church World Services. You can also find a short explanation of the project in the official UN press release on the award ceremony here.

In the piloting projects, school classes and their teachers monitored the quality of the drinking water of more than 100 wells, identifying sources of pollution. All collected results were mapped out and presented to the local population and the local government to develop water safety plans. Cultural programmes, a festival, and press reports also made the project more popular among the wider population. Cleaning actions of wells and rivers were organised and safe sanitation facilities were constructed. A school has been fitted with Ecosan toilets and sinks for washing hands. With such toilets, the ground water stays protected, collecting feces and urine in separate containers which can also be used as fertilizers. Also, Ecosan toilets can be built solid, and are thus far more comfortable than the common shed over the pit latrines in winter.

In Moldova, there are large differences of access to sanitation between rural and urban areas. Whereas 84% of the urban population is connected to a central water supply, only 16% of the rural population has access to centralized supply systems. Without sufficient funds for improving the supply system, innovative, sustainable, and flexible solutions have to be found and implemented.

With the award winning project, WECF and its partners ensured that by combining education, communication and practical activities the local population is aware of their rights to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. This has motivated the people in the areas to improve their own situation, furthering sustainable development and increasing lobbying with local authorities to implement adequate water protection. 

Two Prizes for Ormax in one day

The “Water for Life Best Practice Award” has not been the first prize for Ormax today. Earlier this week, WECF announced the winner of the photo-competition "How happy are children of Ecosan toilets?" Calling to its international network of partners, pictures demonstrating the success and popularity of Ecosan toilets with the local population were sent in. Again, Oleg Rotari won the first prize, which will be awarded today as well. The second prize went to Knarik Grigoryan (AWHHE, Armenia) and the third prize to Surayo Saidova (ASDP Nau, Tajikistan).

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