Ambae School Wastewater System

Ambae_pipe_trenching.jpgIn September 2012, EWBNZ completed this project – a wastewater system and water supply for a school in Vanuatu. The project was initiated in 2010, when EWBNZ was engaged by the community in a small village on the remote Ambae Island, Vanuatu, to design and manage the construction of the first and only set of flushing toilets the island has ever seen.

In the initial stages of the project, EWBNZ undertook the preliminary design with input from the community consultation of visiting the village, and engaging with the locals. EWBNZ then undertook a scoping trip to the village to identify site constraints in 2010.

The project includes a toilet block with 6 toilets, a septic tank, a soakage pit and of course piping between them all. One of the greatest goals of the project was to implement a solution that can be repeated, and therefore the building materials were as locally sourced as possible; the toilet fittings being shipped in from the closest island with a hardware store, the concrete made from locally gathered sand, and the scaffolding constructed with tree branches. With help from the eager local community, plus enormous commitment from the team, we managed to get the whole thing finished just in time.

Before the EWBNZ team arrived in Ambae for the construction stage in 2012, the local men undertook the task of constructing 700 bricks for the septic tank and toilet block construction. Each brick was hand-cast in a mould, which is a slow and arduous process. This commitment to the project from the locals shows their ownership of the system and means that they are more likely to continue to put their efforts into ensuring that it is maintained.

The reaction from the children on the island was amazing - they were so excited to be able to use a toilet instead of having to use the fields, something which we kiwis take for granted.