Social acceptance of community-based DEWATS: A case study from two urban communities of Madhyapur Thimi municipality of Nepal
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Challenge of wastewater management is increasing with rapid population growth in urban areas. Rivers are heavily polluted as more than 90 percent of wastewater is being discharged directly without any treatment in many developing countries. Urban centres of Nepal are facing the same problem. A community-based DEWATS (decentralized wastewater treatment system) as a pilot and demonstration project was initiated by an NGO in Madhyapur Thimi municipality with an attempt to tackle this situation. After construction started in Siddhikali, local people objected the construction saying that it would pollute the local environment. Efforts were made to convince the local people but were in vain. Sunga people, nearby of Siddhikali, requested for the construction of the system in their vicinity. This research aims at studying social acceptance and its role in implementation of community-based DEWATS. Social acceptance, conceptualized in the context of renewable energy, especially windmill, taking cases from developed world, includes three dimensions-socio-political, community and market acceptance was a theoretical basis to carry out this research. There were various reasons that led to rejection of community based DEWATS in Siddhikali. The main reasons were lack of community involvement from the outset of project planning, and selective participation made in the decision-making process ignoring local political dynamics. There was a fundamental departure on employing community-based approach in planning DEWATS in Siddhikali, which relies on decentralized and collective decision-making that seeks locally appropriate solutions. Local people were worried about the impact of possible foul odour to the religious environment. The main causes for the acceptance of community-based DEWATS in Sunga were to protect the land from landslides, consideration of alternatives, and established institutional support mechanism for future operation and maintenance of the system which was lacking in Siddhikali. Social acceptance of community-based DEWATS is seen as a barrier largely due to a matter of handling wastes and associated foul odour problem, whereas it was largely due to its visual impact on landscapes in the case of renewable energy, especially windmill. Based on the findings of this thesis, factors affecting social acceptance is presented in a modified form to suit community-based DEWATS. These factors are grouped into four broad categories namely project specific factors, project external environment, community factors and technology related factors. Some practical implications are also presented as a part of reflection of this research at the end.