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Richmond Vale Academy (RVA) is expanding its sustainable living campaign with the construction of grey water sand filter recycling systems at five of the home gardens it has assisted Vincentian households in establishing.

The objective is to strengthen capacities and awareness of communities in wastewater management, through technical training, and, among other things, group visits to the sites.

The greywater systems are intended to improve water security and increase resilience in a region that is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and other natural risks, which include changes in rainfall variability and more frequent and intense tropical cyclones.

At least three of the five households selected to host a greywater system will be headed by women. Three of the systems will be located in Barrouallie, one in Buccament and one in Chateaubelair/Fitz Hughes).

Greywater is gently used water from bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines. Grey water is not clean drinking water, and it is not blackwater, which is anything that has feces or sewage in it. Greywater may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair, and certain household cleaning products. While greywater may look “dirty,” it is a safe and even beneficial source of irrigation water in a yard.

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RVA staff will train the builder staff in water management and greywater systems and encourage them to continue their work independently as “water entrepreneurs”.

The greywater systems will consist of four parts: plumbing from the house connecting grey wastewater to the nature-based filter; sand and gravel filter; reed bed system; and, an outlet for the purified water, which will empty into a dasheen patch.

Home garden owners will support the construction of the greywater systems and be trained by builder staff on how to manage wastewater and the system sustainably.

Training on agriculture and efficient water use are part of a larger 10-year programme with RVA and selected home gardeners.

The purified water from the five systems will be tested for quality, in collaboration with the Central Water and Sewerage Authority to ensure the effectiveness of the applied method of water treatment.

RVA hopes to scale up the intervention in response to local needs and capacities and once effectiveness has been proven, 100 community members would be invited to visit each greywater system.

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During the visit, they will receive training on the importance and benefits of on-site wastewater management and the greywater system implemented.

“Richmond Vale Academy is extremely excited about this project,” Stina Herberg, Director of RVA said.

“Indirectly, the members of each family — an estimated 25 people in total — will benefit from the decentralised and sustainable management of wastewater and access to safe water, which will contribute to water as well as food security, which is vital for resilience to increasing climate-related risks,” Herberg explained.

 She said that the larger population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will also benefit from the project indirectly in the form of enhanced knowledge through the awareness raising campaigns, which will include a technical video with instructions on how to build and maintain the simple and nature-based greywater system.

As an immediate result of the project, RVA hopes that home gardens will have enhanced access to clean and safe water for vegetable production and that vulnerable groups will have increased technical capacities in sustainable wastewater management.

The intended long-term results include enhanced climate change adaptive capacity and resilience of local communities; increased food and nutrition security and self-sufficiency; empowerment of community members, including women; additional livelihood opportunities; contribution to national integrated wastewater management efforts and prevention of environmental degradation; and contribution to the country’s achievement of sustainable development.

The project is being supported by Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Cartagena Convention Secretariat/ Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP).

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