Emmaus International

The pilot project is moving forward! It has already provided the 70,000 inhabitants of the area surrounding Lake Nokoué with access to drinking water and now the final phases are underway. This week will see the inauguration of the boat equipped with a tank - the conclusion of a project cofounded by the European Union and launched in 2010.

This week marks the completion of the second phase of the project, which focused on sanitation, as well as the construction work on the wastewater treatment plant. The firm overseeing the work has called on the local workforce for assistance, particularly to transport materials in small boats known as pirogues. The wastewater treatment process that has been implemented is entirely biological and is a real innovation in Africa.

From now on, tanks carried by boat will be used to collect the sludge from the various latrine blocks. They are then emptied out into the wastewater treatment basins built for this purpose. Experts from France, Benin, Senegal and the lake’s population worked together to come up with this solution, tailored to the specific conditions of Lake Nokoué. Jean-Paul Gazeau, an engineer working on the project, explains to us that: “Even though it has a tank built into its hull, the boat will be relatively flat-bottomed to enable it to access all the latrines. Its shape will mean it neither uses much fuel nor creates a large wake so that it doesn’t disturb the fishermen. Moreover, it will be made of steel to ensure it resists the lakeside conditions and can easily be repaired on site."

The wastewater is then treated using water hyacinths, which are plants used as filters in this type of system. No chemicals are needed. After 21 days, the treatment of the water is complete: some is used to irrigate crops, some is emptied back into the lake. The dried faecal sludge is sold as fertiliser, and the purifying plants are used as fodder for livestock. The wastewater treatment plant and latrines are going to create more than 100 environmentally friendly jobs.