Special Applications of BORDA's Approach

BORDA’s expertise in the field of decentralised sanitation is well-suited to situations requiring unconventional solutions. Refugee camps that turn into long-term shelters, settlements in water-scarce areas, polluted watersheds that need help to become healthy again…can and do benefit from the application of BORDA’s approach to water and sanitation management.

The importance of sustainability and low maintenance increase as conditions get more difficult. BORDA’s approach works across sectors—at the intersection of development cooperation and humanitarian aid, in the traditionally separate fields of ecological restoration and community sanitation—and in challenging conditions where water is limited or people are displaced.

Meeting tough challenges with cross-sectoral thinking and decentralised, integrated solutions

Sanitation in emergency situations: humanitarian and transitional aid

The question of what happens to wastewater and faecal sludge not only arises in development cooperation, but also in emergency situations where large numbers of people are suddenly without basic services due to natural disasters, wars or other crises. BORDA is increasingly bringing its knowledge and decades of experience in basic sanitation to humanitarian relief operations and transitional aid.

While there are fundamental differences between development cooperation (sustainable and long-term projects) and humanitarian relief (alleviating suffering in emergency situations), there is also overlap: permanent emergency situations like refugee camps that last not months but years. Here, the knowledge and experience gained from long-term development cooperation is directly applicable.

In refugee camps, there is a mission-critical need for proven approaches to basic sanitation combined with wastewater treatment and faecal sludge management. In close cooperation with local governments and humanitarian organisations, BORDA provides training programmes and decentralised wastewater treatment systems (DEWATS) that include a flexible range of modules capable of meeting a variety of needs under difficult conditions.

Translating knowledge from development cooperation into emergency situations

Displaced persons camp in Quratou, Kalar in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI)

In Northern Iraq, BORDA contributes to better living conditions for thousands of Syrian refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) living in refugee camps, while also supporting local Iraqi farmers in neighbouring host communities.

BORDA projects bring decentralised wastewater treatment systems (DEWATS) to refugee camps, improving sanitation in the camps and producing treated water that is reused inside the camps and to irrigate nearby farms.

At the IDP camp in Quratou, Kalar in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), there are about 1040 families. With so many people living in the camp, a large portion of black- and greywater could not be treated. BORDA’s solution was to build two independent DEWATS plants: one that handles 37 m³ of wastewater per day and another that handles 27 m³ per day. These plants were built during the second phase of the camp, which at the time had 512 families (3072 residents).

Turning greywater from camps into a resource for agriculture strengthens cooperation between the local population and refugees/IDPs and improves social cohesion in the region. The re-use of  greywater also helps to improve local environmental conditions, protect natural resources, increase agricultural productivity, and create jobs and better income for refugees/IDPs and the local community.

In KRI, BORDA has also brought sanitation solutions to refugee camps at Setak (Sulaymaniyah), Soran (Erbil) and Zergwez (Sulaymaniyah).

Supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Wastewater treatment in camps helps bring dignity to displaced people and delivers benefits to neighbouring communities and farms

IDP camp in Quratou, Kalar in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI)

DEWATS construction in the Quratou camp: reinforcement and casting

Water-scarce environments: sanitation solutions that save water & improve micro-climates

Water stress and water scarcity are likely to increase, especially in already-arid regions and in places where rapid population growth outpaces nature’s ability to replenish local water sources. In the face of climate change, it is clear that sanitation systems cannot rely solely on water that could be used for drinking, and that reuse of existing resources is ever more vital.

The BORDA network’s holistic approach to decentralised water and sanitation systems is particularly well suited to the challenges posed by water-scarce environments. While conventional sewerage systems rely on large volumes of water drawn from surface or underground sources, BORDA’s gravity-powered treatment options work without drawing on local water sources. Our treatment solutions are adapted to use locally available materials, further enhancing their suitability.

Technical solutions can turn used water into reusable water, but making reuse part of daily life also requires social, political and financial support. BORDA’s multi-pronged approach turns water and sanitation solutions into shared endeavours—especially relevant in places where water is a source of conflict rather than cooperation.

> more about innovative sanitation solutions in arid regions (borda-wesca.org)

Water is an increasingly precious resource—we work to enable its conservation and reuse

In the Dana Biosphere Reserve, an environmentally sensitive and remote area of Jordan, BORDA is developing a close-to-nature sanitation solution for Feynan Ecolodge. Isolated from paved roads and electricity supplies, the lodge offers environment-friendly accommodation and socially and environmentally responsible tourism. Yet it lacks an adequate wastewater system, resulting in pollution and the waste of scarce water resources.

BORDA’s solution integrates wastewater reuse with a biogas component and a new-in-Jordan sludge treatment approach. The modular bio-based system uses indigenous plants and local filter material, ensuring sustainability and low maintenance. The system will produce biogas for cooking and treated wastewater for irrigation of native trees, creating a natural microclimate around the lodge. The wastewater will be treated to reach local effluent standards for safe reuse. In addition, a mineralisation process will transform highly concentrated sludge into a useful resource.

In cooperation with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Royal Society for Conservation of Nature, the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, and the Water Authority of Jordan

A sanitation solution that enhances eco-friendliness

Feynan Ecolodge in Jordan

Selecting indigenous plants for use in wastewater treatment

Watershed management: working within multi-settlement ecosystems

To have clean water for all, we need healthy watersheds. For that, we need holistic watershed management that integrates water and sanitation solutions in ways that are functional and sustainable for low-income communities. The BORDA approach combines:

  • documenting water supply and usage;
  • collecting and analysing soil, water and waste samples;
  • decentralised wastewater treatment (DEWATS);
  • capturing and reusing rainwater to reduce consumption from the water supply system;
  • classifying and handling solid waste;
  • reforesting eroded areas in the watershed;
  • treating organic waste for co-composting with manure; and
  • monitoring water quality.

BORDA’s whole-water-cycle solutions demonstrate the positive potential of working across sectors to bring together areas of practice that are often approached as discrete fields of endeavour. Our approach recognises that ultimately the health of communities and their local environments depends on the health of the ecosystems they occupy.

Analysing water and sanitation challenges from a watershed perspective


BORDA is working with the municipality of Taxco de Alarcón in the Mexican state of Guerrero on the elaboration of a Strategic Plan for Water and Sanitation aimed at the recovery of the San Juan River watershed.

Developed and carried out in cooperation with the watershed’s 11 communities, local universities and NGOs, BORDA’s strategy for efficient management of natural resources focuses on interlinked, executable interventions. These include technical solutions, community outreach and education, and coordination with other projects in the area to avoid duplication or working at cross-purposes.

Demonstration projects consist of rooftop rainwater collection systems combined with decentralised treatment systems for domestic wastewater.

  • Both systems are gravity-powered and operate without electro-mechanical equipment.
  • Two purposes: identifying the specific implementations that best meet local needs, and demonstrating to the local population the potential of this technological approach.

Pre-implementation workshops for managers and representatives of each community, including local public school teachers, focused on:

  • explaining the planning and design process for each component of the system;
  • touring the planned installation sites;
  • showing local people illustrations of how each design will look once it is built; and
  • discussing operation and maintenance requirements and responsibilities.

Meeting the specific needs of each community through a constant exchange with all stakeholders

Elements of a watershed strategy (click for larger view)