WaterAid India help implement groundbreaking solutions for liquid waste management

4 min read
A woman drinking fresh water
Image: WaterAid/ Srishti Bhardwaj

At the end of 2021, WaterAid India provided technical support for the implementation of over 3,300 liquid waste management structures in Betul District. This intervention will significantly help to increase the groundwater table, making clean water more accessible. Lenin Jacob, Technical Specialist from WaterAid India, tells us about the project and the amazing impact it is having on communities.

I take this opportunity, with the utmost honour, to share with you our ongoing liquid waste management work in Madhya Pradesh. Our notable achievement in Betul is a fraction of our entire Waste Water Management Project in rural India, supported by Standard Chartered Bank, that impacted such a revolutionary change in the State.

Madhya Pradesh is located in the heart of India. It has a population of approximately 73.7 million people. Of this, nearly 72% of the population still lives in rural areas. To address our intervention across the State, our approach is categorised into two parts. The first is the intensive Districts, where we implement nature-based liquid waste management solutions on the ground, with the intention of demonstrating these solutions to the State Government. Second, are our 52 extensive districts, where the State Government seeks our technical support to implement our solution, in their areas of priority.

We work in these extensive Districts, on-demand, with a two-dimensional approach; first, at the policy level where we influence the Government to develop policies, guidelines and SOPs (Statement of Procedures), with respect to managing liquid waste at the source. Second, with our technical support to help the State Government implement these nature-based liquid waste management solutions, the on-the-ground, with top-notch quality and technically correct and fit-for-operation designs.


At the heart of the Liquid Waste Management Project is our key theme of uplifting the dignity and welfare of our women, children, sanitation workers and the marginalised community, with an added intention to also address next-generation water challenges.

However, at the beginning of our project, we understood how critical it was to mentor and build capacity within the Government regarding the importance of managing liquid waste, prior to supporting them to implement any nature-based solutions on the ground. To address this, we conducted a Training of Trainers, training over 855 Government Functionaries on different types of nature-based solutions.

In India, when we look at liquid waste management in the context of rural areas, we understand how important it is to recharge the groundwater table. Hence, it was critical to implement and demonstrate the right type of structures. Prior to WaterAid’s intervention, villagers would fetch fresh water from underground, using a handpump, borewell or wells, for their daily usage. And then, after consuming, they would let the leftover wastewater overflow into the drains, further discharging them into the rivers, polluting our natural water resources. With little or no technical support, the State’s interventions were limited to social mobilisation.


This is where we came in. Beginning at the household level, we primarily focused on treating the liquid waste at the source by either recharging it back to the ground or by treating it enough, to be reused at the outlet. Our processes were as follows:

  • First, we assessed the available land area, including a topography survey, feasibility assessment and a house-to-house survey.
  • Since these villages already had Pipe Water Supply, we would construct a washing platform at the standpost in order to channel the water at the source. This allowed us to use liquid waste management as an opportunity to conserve water and recharge/reuse as much as we can.
  • From the washing platform, the water is further streamlined into a Silt Chamber, allowing gravity and density to separate heavy solids from oil and scum.
  • The clean water from the middle of the Silt Chamber, then flowed into a leach pit, allowing groundwater recharge.
  • In areas of hard rock strata or high groundwater table, to allow a constant rate of recharge, we would switch the end structure from a leach pit to a kitchen garden.

As part of our ongoing technical support in Betul, we were able to positively influence the Administration to implement a total of 3,306 liquid waste management structures on the ground, from November to December 2021. These structures include 1,469 household level leach pits and over 1,837 community level leach pits, across 10 blocks. In addition to this, we were also able to successfully leverage Rs. 1.55 Crores (153,000 GBP approx) from the Government.

This intervention will significantly help increase the groundwater table, ultimately uplifting the dignity and welfare of our women and children, who currently have to travel a long distance to fetch water. With more saturation in place, the villagers saw fewer mosquitoes and odour, as compared to a few months ago, which has enhanced social health and hygiene. Looking at the change it is bringing to society, and in the behaviour of the villagers, the District Administration is now willing to replicate these nature-based solutions at their other blocks, too.

We strongly believe this could be the beginning of something State-of-the-art. Currently, we are in the process of technically supporting other District Administrations to replicate the process in their villages, too, such as in Indore, Sehore, Narsinghpur and Bhopal.

By the end of our Liquid Waste Management project, we anticipate that we will have changed the lives of millions of people by uplifting their standard of living, the dignity of women and children, and by catalysing sustainable policy initiatives at the National level.