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NEWS / From backyard sewage dumps to community-led waste water treatment solutions
Category: Water & Sanitation

Image: A canal running through the heart of Kanchipuram town overflows with garbage and pollution. Photo by McKay Savage (CC by 2.0).

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

India’s cities are growing fast. By 2030 the country’s urban population is expected to reach 600 million, as opposed to today’s almost 400 million. Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh is one of these fast-growing cities.

As is often the reality when urbanisation moves at such high rates, local and municipal governments have difficulties keeping up with the provision of essential infrastructure, especially in informal settlements. This leads to several problems, a very prominent one being missing sewerage systems.

In Gorakhpur, this has become a serious issue in the transitional areas between the city and the rural surroundings, i.e. the peri-urban areas. They have become dumping grounds for sewage and garbage that is collected from the streets. This not only pollutes arable land, but it also contaminates water. During heavy rainfall or floods, the sewage piles dilute and run off into nearby rivers and waterways. This has serious health implications for the local population.

Fortunately, change is underway. Communities in Gorakhpur have started treating their wastewater before releasing it into surrounding fields and rivers using Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems (DEWATS).

To learn more about these efforts, watch the short film below.

Stinking Backyard: Film on Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems. Film by TERI, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG)