Bolivia, Costa Rica and Germany cooperate to strengthen water sanitation and waste management.
Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all is one of the goals of the 2030 Agenda (UN, 2023) and one of the top priorities of Ibero-American countries. “Safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services are also an essential part of preventing and protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks, including the recent COVID-19 pandemic” (World Bank, 2022).
In 2021, Bolivia and Costa Rica identified mutual learning opportunities related to sanitation that could be effectively addressed through TC. In this framework, the Andean country would strengthen its knowledge of solid waste management regulations, and the Central-American country would increase its capacity in wastewater and sanitary sewage.
With Germany’s support ―through the Regional Fund for Triangular Cooperation in Latin-America and the Caribbean― it was then proposed to “manage sanitation strategies in two intermediate cities in Costa Rica and one in Bolivia, as a disease detection and prevention measure; and improve sanitation through a comprehensive strategy that includes capacity building, regulation and social participation” (GIZ, 2022).
According to figures from the Regional Fund, the initiative Sanitation strategy in intermediate cities: COTRISAN had a total contribution of around one million euros, and it was developed through 4 lines of action (GIZ, 2023, p.3).
The first was related to collecting information for the development and implementation of a strategy for the management of disposals from household septic tanks. In this regard, a pilot project on household fecal sludge management in Santa Cruz (Bolivia) was used as a reference; a technical sanitation roundtable was formed with entities from both countries; and courses on septic tanks and other related topics were implemented.
The second line of action contemplated the design of a proposal for leachate* regulation, as a measure to protect water resources. Sampling was carried out in Bolivian localities for this purpose, resulting in the generation of two technical guideline documents on urban solid waste and urban sanitary landfills.
Third, given that the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to be present in human waste for a long period of time, an inter-institutional committee was formed to set Procedural Guidelines for the Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater for the generation of an Early Warning System. Moreover, laboratory equipment and materials were provided in addition to training in detection and biosafety techniques (GIZ, 2023, p. 5).
Finally, Costa Rica, through the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewage, supported the Vice-Ministry of Drinking Water and Basic Sanitation of Bolivia in the organization of the 6th LATINOSAN Conference. During the event, countries presented the outcomes of the diagnosis of the sanitary situation of excrement management in the canton of San Pablo de Heredia and the district of Liberia in Costa Rica, and they also presented the results of the application of the Bolivian model for the Management of Household Fecal Sludge (GLFD by its Spanish acronym) in two cities of the Central-American country (GIZ, 2023, p. 5).
Through this Triangular initiative, Bolivia and Costa Rica contributed to the alignment of Ibero-American cooperation with SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation) and SDG 3 (Good health and well-being).
*“Liquids formed by waste, either by the decomposition of organic waste, the spillage of liquids inside containers, or the mixing of rain with solvent residues. One of its most alarming environmental impacts is when it comes into contact with bodies of water, either by direct spillage into seas, lakes and rivers, or by the infiltration of leachates into the ground, which leads to aquifers” (Cedeño, 2022).