AusAID funds research into WASH related aspects of development, including disease prevention through cleaner water and improved sanitation and hygiene, improved environmental management practices and effective infrastructure.
Assessing the cost-effectiveness and sustainability of sanitation infrastructure options for peri-urban areas – a case study of Can Tho in Vietnam
The Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), University of Technology Sydney, together with Can Tho University and Can Tho Water Supply and Sewerage Company completed a research project assessing four wastewater infrastructure options for Can Tho City, Vietnam.
The study, funded by AusAID was conducted from 2009 to 2010 at a cost of $134,250.
Can Tho was chosen as the pilot study site because its high rate of urbanisation and challenges associated with infrastructure provision in outer urban areas which typifies the experience of urban centres across Southeast Asia.
The options considered were:
(i) centralised treatment
(ii) decentralised treatment
(iii) a combination of both
(iv) resource recovery in decentralised areas.
The assessment of the four options was based on cost effectiveness and relative sustainability and involved consultation with key government agencies in Can Tho City.
The study found that the most beneficial option would be a combination of centralised wastewater treatment for the area of densest population and close proximity to existing infrastructure, and decentralised treatment elsewhere.
This would involve a small–scale upgrade to the existing centralised treatment plant’s capacity and use of a proven decentralised technology for less dense areas likely to be developed in the future.
Overall, city stakeholders in Can Tho demonstrated strong interest in the study and its findings. The outcomes of the study provide a much needed evidence base to assist government agencies in determining how best to invest and provide services.
Can Tho city leaders have indicated that the results of the study will be taken into account in the next stages of infrastructure planning in South Can Tho.
In November 2011, ISF won an award for this work - the International Water Association Project Innovations Award in the Sanitation, Wastewater and Applied Research Category.
Read more about the case study [external link, PDF 1.33mb]
Community-based approaches to economically, socially and environmentally sustainable management of water pollution in Vietnam’s craft villages
The Australian National University in collaboration with Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD) in Vietnam conducted a research project on Crafting Sustainability: Addressing Water Pollution in Vietnam’s Craft Villages.
The project, funded through the Australian Development Research Awards 2008 Funding Round at a cost of $294,000. It aimed to assess the drivers of water pollution in Vietnam’s craft villages and options for addressing these drivers, particularly the role of community–based approaches.
It drew on four case study sites in the Red River Delta region of Northern Vietnam in order to get a good representation of different locations, types and scales of craft production.
This research generated new knowledge on the causes of water pollution from craft villages. In particular, it highlighted the role of capital, land shortages and livelihood imperatives in craft producers’ decision making. It uncovered the diversity, interconnectedness and predominantly small to medium scale of operations in craft villages. The project has also contributed more broadly to the understanding of the social and environmental implications of rural industrialisation in Vietnam.
A major objective of the project was building capacity in the partner organisation, IPSARD. Staff involved in the project, initially unfamiliar with qualitative research, commented that the detailed training on qualitative methods that they received showed them the value of using data to understand environmental governance problems.
Read the report
Review of research on interventions that could mitigate the impact of arsenic contamination on human health in a developing country context
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry in England undertook a systematic review of the effectiveness of field–based technologies for the removal of arsenic from groundwater on human health in developing countries.
The review cost $58,000 and was conducted from June 2011 to June 2012. 11,457 studies were screened and 51 were chosen for closer examination. The review found that the quality of studies in this area was generally poor, due to small sample size and inadequate reporting. Most studies were based in Bangladesh, with the remainder in West Bengal, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia and China. Across the 51 included studies, 50 different interventions were described.
Overall, the effectiveness of oxidation and filtration interventions was poor, whilst coagulation, co–precipitation and filtration, subterranean and membrane and electrolytic methods had mixed evidence for effectiveness, ranging from either poor to good. Adsorption and zero valent iron interventions suggested good effectiveness. In particular, the activated alumina and sono three-pitcher filters had more than 95 per cent of samples meeting national guidelines.
The success of the technologies was highly dependent on context, with the main issues being acceptability to users, sense of ownership and the role of women in society.
The review recommended that improving the evidence-base for decision-making in this area will require commissioning of primary research that:
- reports the number and results of samples tested
- includes an adequate number of samples
- uses valid tools for analysis
- meets reporting guideline standards
- tests the impact of key implementation contextual factors.