A toilet for every informal settlement household in Suva, Fiji

a tropical scene with palm trees and a house that is on an informal settlement with a makeshift pit covered in corrugated iron

Monash is helping every household in an informal settlement in Suva, Fiji access a toilet that is connected to a sealed septic tank and where waste is treated through a constructed wetland. (Monash University)


Hard at work in Suva, Fiji, our partner, Monash University is ensuring that all households have access to a toilet, and all toilets are connected to a wastewater treatment system. Sustainable sanitation systems are life changing.


This work is park of the the Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments program (RISE), supported by the Australian Government in both Fiji and Indonesia, through Water for Women.


Depending on the setup and needs of each household, this work involves providing support to build a private toilet facility where a household does not have one; renovating toilet facilities that are in poor condition; and connecting all toilets to a sealed septic tank and constructed wetland system that provide primary and secondary treatment before discharging effluent into the environment. 


RISE’s interventions in informal settlements aim to reduce community exposure to contamination as a result of poor sanitation management. Making sure all households have access to a toilet, and connecting all toilets to a wastewater treatment system, is key to ensuring safe and healthy living environments for all. 


Existing wastewater management in communities is largely managed by individual households. Typically, toilet facilities range from pit toilets to flush or pour flush toilets. The sewage from these is discharged into covered pits or ad-hoc tanks made from all kinds of vessels including 44-gallon drums, car tyres, or repurposed white-goods. Wastewater from laundry and kitchen areas is typically discharged into open and unlined drains. Without containment and treatment this wastewater contributes to environmental contamination, and has a range of associated negative health and well-being impacts for communities.

three stages of toilet construction showing a wall being contructed, a window and toilet added and then the finished product with a water tank outside

New toilets with attached water tanks under construction at RISE’s demonstration site in Suva, Fiji. (Monash University)


Over the past three years, RISE has been undertaking participatory design activities with communities to co-design improvements in sanitation management in Makassar and Suva settlements. Co-design activities include a series of workshops based on participatory design principles to co-design a water-sensitive neighbourhood upgrade.


The workshops include focus group discussions with men, women and youth about existing neighbourhood characteristics; capacity-building around contamination pathways, and alternative water supply and wastewater treatment infrastructure; and co-design of infrastructure to improve the health of the community and the environment. 


In late 2020 the Water for Women team will be collecting qualitative data about the gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) aspects of co-design activities supporting the implementation of the program. This will include one-on-one interviews or focus group discussions with diverse groups of men and women that take place face-to-face or over the phone. Ultimately, this data collection will contribute to a toolkit for gender equitable and socially inclusive co-design of WASH infrastructure, including sanitation, in informal urban settlements.

World Toilet Day is celebrated on November 19th.

On World Toilet Day, we celebrate the role of safe, accessible toilets as a building block of healthy and resilient communities.

But World Toilet Day is not just about toilets, it is also about the important role of the systems and people that surround and support adequate toilets to ensure they are sustainable and can withstand the impacts of climate change.

Water for Women partners are working hard to ensure all people within communities have access to safe and sustainable sanitation.


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