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After completing the Exploration workshop for the SCE (sanitation in challenging environment) project. The Steering committee with community member representatives from Erakor Bridge validate the toilet design.

Over a year ago, Engineers without Borders initiated its Sanitation in Challenging Environment (SCE) project in the Erakor Bridge community. The SCE project aims to co-develop with the Erakor Bridge community an appropriate toilet system suitable for its flooding and high ground water context. As their Technical Programme Manager, I (Steve Tarimaemae) have led the project following the tailored EWB’s Technology Development Approach, starting with:

  • community engagement with key members of the community from chiefs to their environment youth activist groups
  •  a literature review exercise to find out which systems existed around the world
  •  a community empathy mapping workshop to capture men and women’s perceptions of the issue, their feelings and thoughts about the current challenging situation
  • an ideation phase and development of a draft concept design.

The next steps of the project include finalising a detailed design of a toilet system, testing one or two prototypes, training a Sanitation Committee to build, operate and maintain the future system and scaling up the system to reach a maximum of communities in Vanuatu facing the same Challenging Environment. The scale-up model is yet to define and may include the following elements:

  • The creation of a “School of appropriate Toilets”, linked with the Restoration of the Erakor Lagoons
  • A continued engagement with communities’ chiefs to help make a selection of the trainees / future trainers and project implementers in each community
  • The development of 3 video episodes of 20 minutes about how to build and maintain any individual or communal types of toilets with Erakor Bridge
  • A mapping of existing industry stakeholders to identify the strengths and interests of existing businesses to get involved in either: the construction, training, operations and maintenance activities related to the toilet system;
  • Engaging Erakor Bridge Community Leads (David, James & Mary) to undertake a 6 months training program for Capacity Building under a UNDP call out for Social Impact Program hosted by V Lab; This training will enable the Erakor Bridge Community to create a “Environment Protection Association for the Erakor Bridge Community”, Within this Association are sub committees who will be overlooking Waste Management Initiatives (Recycling/Re-using) & WASH Initiatives such as the SCE Project;
  • The integration of the new toilet designs in the Ministry of Health’s own Sanitation and Hygiene guidelines, which EWB co-developed in 2018/19.

This project is closely related to a wider catchment-based vision by the Erakor Paramount Chief Plan and other local chiefs (refer to for the background of their long-term initiatives), aiming to restore the Lagoons. In summary, the restoration of the Erakor Lagoons comes down to the slogan: STOP pollution, CLEAN and RESTORE the lagoon.  The success of the Erakor community’s Plan and their initiative to ‘Save the Lagoons’ would benefit immensely from the success of this application.

If successfully implemented, the project will improve the health and environment of communities living in SCE, starting with the Erakor Bridge communities, while reducing the vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change such as heavy rainfall and flooding events. It will also improve the comfort and safety of women, using a toilet system developed with their considerations and increase community engagement leading to a sense of ownership and pride.


Anna Ketu (5223077)_Kalo JP friend (5214454)