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Bulgaria - Safe Sanitation, Health and Dignity

Implementation of dry urine diverting toilets and and waste water soil filters for schools and private households


Countries: Bulgaria
Donors: Fondation Ensemble, France
Partners: Earth Forever Foundation
Issues: Water & Sanitation
Duration: 10/2007 - 09/2010

The project "Safe Sanitation, Health and Dignity - Bulgaria" takes place in three provinces – Stara Zagora (10 villages), Pleven (2 villages) and Sofia, Pravets municipality (2 villages). Implementing organizations: WECF, Netherlands, Earth Forever Foundation, Bulgaria. The project is funded by Fondation Ensemble.

The Project

The project “Safe Sanitation, Health and Dignity“ in Bulgaria will implement dry urine diverting toilets for schools and private households, waste water soil filters and school demonstration gardens. This ecological sanitation technique has given good results in previously implemented projects in Bulgaria.

This project tries to raise awareness on good and safe sanitation in rural areas and on hygiene and health, and creates an enabling environment for replication and up scaling through a team of local trained ecosan builders.

Background information

Bulgaria is a country in the Balkan peninsula with a population of about 7.500.000 people. About 88 % of the territory of the country is rural area. There are 3.850 settlements with a population below 2.000 people and in these settlements reside nearly half of the rural population. Almost 96% of the territory of the country has central drinking supply system. The quality of the water is good, despite in some places shortages of water are observed, especially during summer time. The sanitation infrastructure is insufficient both in urban and rural areas. There are more than 2.1 million people in rural settlements which lack of proper sanitation. The people usually use pit latrines or soak aways which infiltrate in the underground water, some of them overflow into the streets, others overflows in neighbours gardens. The lack of sanitation in rural areas could be considered as a main problem in the countries of Eastern Europe. Insufficient sanitation often leads to various diseases and to groundwater pollution in the rural areas.


The main goal of the project is to improve sanitary conditions in schools and households in rural settlements in Bulgaria in a sustainable and affordable way. Current conditions in rural schools do not meet standard hygienic requirements. Every school uses a pit latrine for a toilet. These toilets are very inconvenient especially for girls; most children do not even use the toilet during the day because of bad conditions in summer, let alone in winter.

The project plans to train local builders for correct building of ecosan toilets, to involve local population to the development of water safety plans.

Also school children will be educated on the relationship between safe sanitation, water protection, hygiene and health, and will be actively monitoring drinking water quality on nitrates (sanitation pollution indicator).

Local families will be trained to develop an organic waste composting program, allowing improved agricultural activities in these impoverished communities greatly dependent on good yields.

Additionally some case studies will be produced with detailed analysis of the constructed systems, there is a close cooperation with the Trakia University, Stara Zagora municipality. The results of the project implementation will be of good base for policy recommendations and will be presented at local, national and international level.

The project will have long term positive effects: education of local citizens reduction of groundwater pollution, improved health of the villagers, and reduction of poverty. Possibly, urine as fertilizer and compost as soil conditioner will increase harvests yields.

Overflowing septic pit in garden of household in a village, NE Bulgaria

Description of the project areas

The project takes place in three provinces in Bulgaria:

1. Stara Zagora province

The total population of the province is 391.151 people. The life standard in the villages included in this project has drastically deteriorated after 1989 due to constant agricultural reforms and lack of opportunities for the workforce. The villages are lagging behind in infrastructural development and maintenance, incl. safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities. Most of the schools in the region use pit latrines built on soakaway pits. The village schools are very small, most of them serve more than one village.

2. Pleven Province, Pordim Municipality

The area of the municipality is 255 sq. km and total population of 8.300 inhabitants living in 8 settlements. None of the schools in the province has a sewer system; all of them are connected to centralized drinking water supply system.

3. Pravets Municipality, Sofia province

Pravets municipality is situated in central western Bulgaria, located approximately 60 km from the capital Sofia. It has a population of 4.512 people, and together with the belonging 9 villages - 9.000 inhabitants.

The population in the villages consists mostly of Roma people, so are the pupils in the school. The village schools have poor sanitation conditions, all the school use pit latrines. The toilets in the schools are in bad condition, attracting the flies and do not cover the hygienic requirements.

Expected Results in Bulgaria

  • Implementation in 10 villages - 20 indoor household toilets, 4 new ecosan school toilet (1 outdoor, 3 indoor), 4 school projects will test sanitized urine and dehydrated faeces in demonstration vegetable gardens, 10 grey-water filters will be built in 10 villages and 4 grey-water filters will be built for the schools.
  • Capacity Building – tutoring programs, trainings, development a water safety plan for the villages, etc.
  • Up-Scaling – case studies, cooperation with the Trakia University in designing and monitoring of the dry urine diverting toilets and development of a business plan for local production of ecological equipment.

What is a Dry Urine Diverting Toilet System?

A urine diverting toilet has two outlets and two collection systems; one for urine and one for the faeces, in order to keep these excreta fractions separate. Other than that, the system has mainly conventional technical construction material/devices, even if they are used in completely or partly new ways.

Urine and faeces are collected in separate containers, stored or treated, and finally used in crop production. Grey water is treated separately, and this is not in the scope of the report as mentioned above. Urine diversion in itself shall be seen as a complementary technology since the other wastewater flows (faeces, grey water and storm water) also need to be handled and treated.

This project will apply two types of ecological sanitation/wastewater treatment systems in Bulgaria:

  • dry urine diverting toilets
  • soil/sand waste water filters

It has been chosen for these two types of ecological sanitation / wastewater treatment as they provide the highest level of hygiene, environmental and health protection at the lowest price and can be produced and maintained locally with no need for highly skilled experts.


The project is financed partly by Fondation Ensemble. Future co-funding will include local authorities and another French organization.

Implementing organization on a local level

The local organization which carries out the project in Bulgaria is Earth Forever Foundation, with executive Director, Mrs. Diana Iskreva.

Earth Forever Foundation carried out a MATRA project "Developing a model for sustainable water and waste management in rural areas in Bulgaria". During this project several ecosan systems were constructed in the villages Sulitsa and Stara Zagora Spa.

Contact persons

  • Bistra Mihaylova, project officer Bulgaria: bistra.mihaylova(at)
  • Anne Barre, project leader: anne.barre(at)


If you want to donate money to this project, here are the bank account numbers for tax deductable donations:

The Netherlands: Women in Europe for a Common Future, WECF

  • Account Number: 435 42 99 14
  • IBAN: NL 84 ABNA 0435429914

Germany: Women in Europe for a Common Future, WECF e.V.

  • Account Number: 13 1390 50
  • Bank code: 701 500 00
  • IBAN: DE68 7015 0000 0013 1390 50
  • Bank: Stadtsparkasse München

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