Low-cost sewage systems in Egypt

July 17, 2012

The problem with sewage

UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, estimates that in the developing world, more than 90 percent of sewage is dumped directly into oceans, rivers and lakes. This is not surprising, considering the number of people who have no access to a toilet: 2.5 billion (WHO). Containing millions of viruses and bacteria, untreated waste water does not only contaminate the environment but also causes life threatening diseases such as diarrhoea, salmonellosis and hepatitis A.

A solution by the Together Association for Development and Environment (Egypt)

Together Association for Development and Environment (TA) installs low-cost sewage systems in rural villages in Egypt in order to improve water quality, sanitation and public health. Sameh Seif Ghali https://www.ashoka.org/fellow/sameh-ghali, founder of TA, developed a community-based model with the aim of serving remote rural villages that are not likely to be considered by government programs in the near future. In comparison to sewage systems proposed by the government, TA’s mini-sewage plants provide two important benefits: they are cheaper and they can be constructed with materials that are available locally. TA connects existing household septic tanks by installing gravity-fed pipes to a communal filtering facility. Every village is consulted individually in order to meet specific needs and consider local conditions.

Acceptance and maintenance are important aspects when it comes to the implementation of new systems. Therefore ownership confidence and self-determination are considered as key factors in TA’s approach. The organization integrates the community in the installation process, making sure that the applied system meets the actual needs of the end-users. Furthermore TA provides training to unemployed youth and other community members ensuring qualified maintenance after the completion of the project. Every household benefitting from the system makes a financial contribution. Local community CSOs, in charge of collecting fees and overlooking the maintenance, ensure the financiation of the system.

Get your own idea of how TA works and watch the video

An interview with Sameh Seif Ghali at the CIDG meeting in Munich in 2011

Sameh Seif Ghali is a member of CIDG (Community Impact Development Group). The CIDG is a joint initiative of Ashoka and the Siemens Stiftung (Foundation):  a network of leading social entrepreneurs working on impacting local communities in developing countries with the help of a technological product or service.






Veit Mathauer
Veit Mathauer



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  • Water & Waste Water
  • Water & Waste Water