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From a baseline of little interest in composting toilets to a success story other countries are looking to emulate, the Tuvalu GEF Pacific IWRM project has demonstrated the value of engaging stakeholders. This core IWRM and project approach has facilitated a national-level change in attitudes to sanitation and water management, development of a national water and sanitation policy framework, increased water security and is dramatically increasing access to improved sanitation in Tuvalu.

Initially, the project struggled to find families to trial the first ten compost toilets. A communication and engagement campaign involving innovative strategies including a toilet roadshow, a competition to name the Tuvaluan designed toilet (the ‘Falevatie’), focus groups and targeted media campaigns and numerous school and community sessions were built around a sound technical solution. Less than three years later over 25% of Funafuti’s households (275 families) are seeking to install compost toilets.

The project focus on stakeholder engagement has been reflected in strong support for a national indicator framework and a national water and sanitation policy. The inclusion of gender targets in senior national water governance is a reflection of the empowering nature of the project and a positive response to pilot gender awareness in water workshops. The project is also assisting with drought management, particularly relevant following the 2011 drought and national State of Emergency, through the development of a national water storage model, providing critical water security management and planning information.

Benefits of installation of the 40 compost toilets:

  • Removed the sewage pollution into groundwater and subsequently into coastal waters (5% reduction in groundwater pollution)
  • The co-funding commitments to replicate eco-sanitation to a further 60 houses in partnership with this project will deliver a further 8% reduction in sewage pollution, putting the project on track to exceed the target.
  • Reducing household water use by over 30% in these houses (5% of Funafuti’s population).
  • The co-funded installation of toilets in partnership with this project will see these reductions in about 15% of Funafuti houses.
  • Increased access to improved sanitation for about 280 people (5% of Funafuti’s population)
  • The work in Tuvalu has also generated a lot of interest around the Pacific. Tonga has built demonstration toilets, Nauru has installed them in schools and the Marshall Islands are planning construction soon.

(Seleganiu 2012)