Zimbabwe: Female student campaigns for Grey water is not so grey after all

Date: February 7, 2020
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The use of greywater obtained from the dining hall in the student’s toilet facilities started in 2015 at Jonh Tallach high school, Umguza District. Which has helped save, recycle and keep students hygienic despite the water crisis. This running project was started by the Environment club to supply water for flushing and washing of hands. This is done by water being first pumped into tanks i.e. water from the washing of dishes, the water is then sieved to remove all solid waste lastly a disinfectant called jik is added to make the water usable and cleaner in a treatment tank.

With the constant water shortage due to lack of rain leading the nearest dam which is Ingwenya dam nearly empty and failing to supply the whole community. Water was to be channelled to pending uses in the school such as cooking, washing, bathing, and drinking leaving no water for toilet use. Something had to be done that would allow the school to simultaneously use water for these domestic purposes and still manage to flash the toilets using the same water! The dining hall was then identified as the place that used the largest amount of water through the washing of plates which was done from morning to evening. It was also discovered that not only was this water reuseable but the amount of water that was used in the dining was directly proportional to the amount needed to flash the toilets per day. This paused an excellent idea to use greywater from the Dining hall as our water source for flushing and washing our hands in the school area. The dining hall is an excellent water source because it is a reliable water source as the dishes are washed every day enabling the children to daily leave their toilets spotless.
Key Actions
The research was first carried to find out how water was going to be moved from the dining hall to the toilet. This was done by students from the environmental management club. The project needed to be cheap as the school had a minimum budget. It was then decided that the water from the dining hall was to be directly sieved when it was from being drained from the sinks. A sieve was placed on the drainage system so as to remove solid waste material that could escape from the sinks. The sieve was placed in a way that allowed the students to remove it on weekends and also so that the ancillary staff could easily remove it after washing the dishes. This was effective and could be easily implemented. The second step was then to set up a treatment plant, with the assistance of the patron an underground tank was dug so as to allow the water from sieved to be stored for storage and further treatment. Water was to be treated with jik to make it clean. A motor was bought to pump water from the underground storage tank to the cistern so that students could be able to flush their toilets. A small storage tank was also bought to store water for the washing of hands. This water was not clean enough for the students to drink so the club decided to raise awareness by designing posters with the sign “DO NOT DRINK”. As time went on the posters were replaced as they easily got worn out. It was then decided that this message was going to be drawn on the wall
This project was done by the students from the environmental organization along with their patron who first allowed then to deliberate about it and come up with solutions as to how they were going to carry out the project. The partners that were involved were the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland who assisted in the funding of the project. After they had heard what the children had proposed they advised them to make a budget and after that supplied them with all their needs. The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) recognized what the club had done and helped in profiling the project. The Umguza District council also contributed to again profiling what the club had done and appeased the school.
In school, we have an Environmental club which campaigns and seeks to find new methods that can advance the school through better environmental management. The main concern was to first check whether this method was environmentally safe which is it was. The patron then approached the school authorities for approval which they granted to him. There was a media tour from various media for example Zimbabwe Broadcasting Channel, The Chronicle and Sunday News which educated the general public about the club’s plan. A radio interview was done by Montrose Studio the students along with their patron were interviewed

It was noted that when the water was kept for a long period of time there was a stench that evolved this was a concern because the storage tank is at the back of the dining hall the was mainly due to the lack of supervision from the workman. Another problem was poor maintenance resulting in students failing to use these toilets during school works as the workman failed to take note of times to pump water. The toilets themselves presented some problems as the cisterns at times failed to operate and these toilets also need to be cleaned all the time. The following solutions were then implemented so as to solve these problems; jik was added to kill the stench produced. A timetable was set so as to remind the staff when to switch the engines on and off. Children were included in the roaster of toilet cleaning and addition of jik because they could be easily monitored all classes are made to rotate the duty
More of these toilets that use greywater have been constructed namely outside the A’level dormitories for both girls and boys allowing the students to still use flush toilets in time of water shortage. This has been maintained through constant repairing of any burst pipe and small Jojo tanks have been added to store this water allowing the students to have water available even in times of electricity cuts. More toilets need to be built especially for the juniors. A much more efficient treatment plan to be set up
Long term Impact
This program has allowed the school to save large amounts of money needed for running flush toilets. As it is still ongoing it has allowed students to freely use toilets even in times of water crisis And has taught students that water can be reused for the best interest of the community in an environmentally friendly manner as conservation is encouraged. We also learned that

Learning and how this will be applied
We have learnt that greywater is as useful as clean water if treated the right way and we can easily reduce unnecessary costs through conservation of water. This can be applied to other schools so as to help them construct toilets that are ecologically friendly these toilets can enable students to use clean toilets every day even when water is unavailable it is very reliable especially in boarding schools where dishes are washed daily hence consuming a lot of water that can be used to the benefit of the students as well.

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