Designing structured and sustainable access to water and sanitation in Bulgaria’s slums

Creating infrastructure providing access to water and sanitation is essential, but not always enough for a real water service to emerge. It is necessary to raise awareness and educate the people concerned. Eau et Vie, an NGO specializing in these topics, works in the shantytowns of Sofia, Bulgaria, to ensure sustainable access to these essential services.


In the Lyulin district on the outskirts of Sofia (Bulgaria), most houses are illegally connected to the water and sanitation networks. The connections are poor and cause frequent breaks and leaks as well as obstructing the network. Untreated wastewater is discharged directly into the city's river.
 

A model based on strong engineering

Infrastructure has been built but difficulties still persist. Alongside the local community the NGO Eau et Vie will intervene to find a long term solution.
 
Based in France, it has for many years worked on developing sustainable access to water and sanitation services in some very different countries. The originality of its approach is twofold. A long study phase prior to installing a water service first makes it possible to determine the target population and develop a customized response. Then Eau et Vie establishes a social water service that eventually generates profits and whose management is entrusted to employees from the customer population.
 
On the basis of this strong social engineering, the partners have developed a pilot project to improve the conditions of access to water and sanitation services in Filipovtsi, in the Lyulin district.
 

A twelve-month study

The approach adopted is based on the approach already employed by Eau et Vie in other contexts to provide sustainable access to water and sanitation. Two legal entities are created, one in the form of a local horizontal syndicate responsible for ensuring the payment of water and sanitation bills and who will be the interlocutor for the local operator, Sofiyska Voda, the other set up as an NGO that will promote hygiene, undertake advocacy with the district council and mobilize the community throughout the life of the syndicate.
 
A twelve-month study will formally present the approach to the local authorities and communities (Phase 1: mobilization & advocacy) then qualify the target population (Phase 2), in particular from the point of view of purchasing power, and finally launch the services operationally (Phase 3) by in particular determining the business plan.

The Veolia Foundation supports this social experiment alongside the different stakeholders in the program.