Two of the biggest challenges facing Egyptian rural communities are the lack of access to improved sanitation, and water scarcity for food production. Only 6% of Egyptian rural villages are provided with wastewater treatment services. Children in rural households are 8.5 times more likely than those in urban areas to lack toilet facilities. The lack of access to safe water and proper sanitation facilities, as well as poor hygiene contributes to the spreading of diseases, which significantly and negatively impacts children’s health and nutrition, and is sometimes even a cause of death.
In Egypt, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children under the age of five. The need for improved sanitation is huge; 50 million Egyptians continue to live without access to improved sanitation. If no alternative is provided, people say that they are forced to continue with “business as usual”: discharging raw wastewater and sludge in drains and canals; injecting wastewater into the ground; and sometimes dumping it directly into agricultural fields to make up for the water shortage in Egypt.
According to the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, Egypt already uses 127% of its water resources, creating a growing deficit in the national water budget of about 19.5 billion cubic meters. This is before the completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which threatens Egypt’s water and food security.
To overcome the water shortage, SuWaCo developed wastewater treatment and reuse techniques, particularly for irrigation, as a solution. Using a systems integration approach that provides a mix of modular and cost effective solutions, which are optimized for the specific water, energy and food challenges faced by vulnerable rural communities.SuWaCo offers resource-poor consumers a full solutions package that links their pressing needs with a chain full of technological, financial, and capacity-building services. SuWaCo empowers local communities, especially youth and women, through an inclusive, well-designed, community-led planning and implementation approach that fulfills local needs and secures additional income sources for low-income households.
When it comes to gender equality, SuWaCo leads by example with gender-balanced leadership and staffing. SuWaCo also has a policy of not providing services to families who deny girls elementary education, as a step to help combat girl illiteracy. SuWaCo also helps those families by offering to connect them with donors that sponsor girls’ learning, to ensure the families don’t face financial stress. SuWaCo also strategically sends out women-dominated teams to do field work to facilitate women inclusion in participatory and community-led projects, as it helps to overcome the cultural barriers that still proliferate in some rural contexts that prevent women interacting with strange men.
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