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Romania and Macedonia (FYROM): Water and Sanitation Safety Plans

Water and Sanitation Safety Plans for environmental education in schools in rural areas

01.02.2014 | WECF Project

Countries: Romania and Macedonia( FYROM)
Donors: Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU)
Partners: Aquademica(Romania), JHR, Macedonia(FYROM)
Issues: Water & Sanitation
Duration: 11/2013 - 04/2015

The aim of this project is to raise awareness about environmental protection, particularly in the area of water quality in the rural regions of  Romania and Macedonia.

The creation of Water and Sanitation Safety Plans will encourage the population to promote local action for the improvement of water supply and sanitation systems, with the active participation of students, youth, teachers, locals and the authorities.

Romania joined the European Union in 2007, and has until 2018 to implement the EU regulations relating to the EU Water Framework Directive. There is still a great need for the construction and renovation of local infrastructure in rural areas. Only 28% of the rural population is currently connected to a central water supply and is therefore able to benefit from proper water services. Most families depend on private and public wells, whose shallow aquifers are not adequately protected againts pollution caused by human activities.More than 7 million people living in rural areas have no access to safe sanitation and use pit latrines. The population in  general  is often unaware of the interconnections between the quality of water, sanitation, hygiene, fertilising of the soil and health.

Since 2005, (the Former Yugoslav Republic of - FYROM) Macedonia  has been a pre-accession country in the EU. 99% of its households, both in urban and rural areas, are connected to the central water supply system, but despite this many water shortages exist. Its water pipes were laid between 1960 and 1980, and a lack of maintenance has led to the poor condition of this water supply system. According to UN Habit, 23% of the inhabitants of Macedonia do not have access to drinking water of adequate quality. About 80% of the water comes from karst aquifers whose quality is known to be influenced by rainfall and surface pollution sources. As in Romania, information related to the quality of drinking water in rural areas is unavailable to the population. There is no access to safe sanitation in rural areas, where pit latrines are used.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has developed the innovative tool of Water Safety Plans (WSP) to ensure the quality of water systems, including small wells and small-scale local centralised water-supply systems. This helps minimise health risks. In these WSPs, civil society is considered of crucial importance, as are the authorities and local suppliers.

The project is in line with the EU directive which aims to educate and train young people on the (waste) water cycle, the protection of water resources and sustainable water usage. The activities are supposed to be structured and practical.

  • Extension of the already existing Water Safety Plan Compendium to a Water and Sanitation Safety Plan Compendium. Translation of the extended Compendium into Romanian and Macedonian.
  • Training teachers on how to implement the project and about the development of WSSP together with pupils, young people, and the local population.
  • Measuring the nitrate concentration in groundwater by simple tests and recording seasonal fluctuations
  • Evaluating local public drinking water for contamination by total coliforms and Escherichia coli, with the help of certified laboratories
  • Detecting and identifying possible sources of contamination of drinking water, groundwater and health hazards.
  • Identifying drinking water problems with the participating schools, involving experts and authorities.
  • Presenting the results at local, national and international level (through seminars, the media and local fairs).
  • Publicity work, awareness-raising and planning actions to increase water quality and minimise risks.
  • Supporting the implementation of appropriate water policy at a regional, national and international level.
Regions where the project  takes place:
Four schools in  3 communities of Romania, located in different parts of the Timisoara county : villages Conac and Cerna (3600 inhabitants); villages Ivanda,Crai Nou and Runda (approx. 3000 inhabitants); villages Bărăteaz u. Hodoni (approx. 4800 inhabitants).
Two schools in Macedonia , situated south of the capital, Skopje: Village Mojanci (2350 inhabitants);  Village Neprosteno (approx. 1300 inhabitants).

Partners in this project are:
In Romania, WECF‘s partner is the Aquademica Foundation, based in Timisoara. It was founded in 2009 and is recognised as a national training and educational centre in the environmental field. The foundation has experience in the provision of highly qualified training sessions, applied knowledge and the development and implementation of innovative and modern strategies. Projects in water and sanitation are also part of its activities. 

In Macedonia (FYROM) our partner is Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), an NGO working in the fields of  youth development, equal rights, the elimination of discrimination against women in society and the environment, and freedom of speech. For the last three years JHR and WECF have cooperated in the area of Chemicals and Health in implementing the project “Product and Chemical Safety in the Balkans – civil society cooperation on EU aquis and on values for consumer and corporate responsibility“.

In 2012, Journalists for Human Rights held a workshop in Skopje on the Right to Water and Sanitation within the UNECE, under the Protocol on Water and Health. The meeting was attended by representatives of national institutions from Macedonia, Greece, Albania and Kosovo, as well as the relevant local NGOs.

The Project is funded by the German Environment Foundation DBU.

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