Research that assesses the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of sanitation infrastructure options has won an International Water Association award.
The Project Innovations Awards – Development (PIA-D) celebrate excellence and innovation in water and sanitation projects in low and middle income countries. The ISF research project won the PIA-D award in the Sanitation Wastewater – Applied Research Category.
Dr Juliet Willetts and Naomi Carrard will accept the award on behalf of the team that also includes A/Prof. Mick Paddon, Monique Retamal and Prof Cynthia Mitchell at the IWA Development Congress in Kuala Lumpur this month.
The applied research that won the award focuses on how to provide sanitation services in peri-urban areas of developing cities most cost-effectively and sustainably over the long-term.
Throughout the developing world cities are growing at a rapid rate, and the conventional approaches to sanitation are often beyond their financial capacity. However, there is a lack of robust methodologies for analysis to compare the costs of different sanitation options operating at different scales (from highly centralised to fully decentralised) and the solutions for each area will depend on the physical, social and political context. There is also a need for development of well-structured, deliberative processes for making decisions that transcend institutional boundaries such that a breadth of sustainability criteria can be brought to bear on a given investment decision.
This applied research project sought to collaboratively address these issues in the city of Can Tho, Vietnam in a partnership between Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, Can Tho Water Supply and Sewerage Company and Can Tho University.
The project collaboratively developed and applied a rigorous methodology to develop and compare four sanitation options (centralised, decentralised, combination centralised/decentralised and a resource recovery option). The findings indicate that a combined decentralised/centralisedoption was the preferred solution. Project Director, Dr Willetts said ‘the extraordinarily positive response from utilities, development banks, and others in the sector clearly indicate that the research methodology and decision making process we used is worthy of replication in Vietnam and other developing and middle income countries.’
The IWA congratulated the team for “such an exceptional and innovative project.”
Many of the sanitation issues facing low and middle income countries are highlighted in AusAID’s hot topic article released for World Toilet Day on 17 November 2011. Institute researchers have worked closely with AusAID on water, sanitation and hygiene projects that address these issues.