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Arctic Water Sanitation and Health (Arctic WASH)

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Today, drinking- and wastewater treatment systems in Arctic regions are under serious pressure. The wastewater treatment ranges from the application of mechanical treatment plants to passive treatment systems consisting of waste stabilization ponds (WSPs), natural or engineered wetlands, and composting or bucket toilets. In many of the poorer communities’ human excreta/wastewater receives no treatment at all. Melting permafrost zones add increasing vulnerability to physical structures and community-based water services.

Poor sanitary conditions often combined with inadequate water supply give rise to (enteric, skin and respiratory) health problems that compound with Arctic environmental health issues.

Discharge of wastewater into the vulnerable ecosystems in the Arctic may also require different technologies or system designs than those used in warmer climates. Currently, limited information exists about water handling facilities in the Arctic, resulting in considerable uncertainties about the performance and environmental sustainability of existing or potentially different future systems. Changing paradigms aspiring to closed-loop systems and economies also need to be considered for water and sanitation services, such as resource recovery for energy, nutrients and water – yet many institutional and governance barriers inhibit this change.

This knowledge platform facilitates a scenario-based exploration and application of scientific and administrative knowledge for the sound development of suitable solutions for decentralized water treatment technologies under the harsh climate conditions of the Arctic.

Module 1: Introduction

 The Arctic is undergoing dramatic changes in its climate that will make the region increasingly accessible for economic development, including…
10 Factsheets
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Module 2: Environment, Pollution Levels & Implications

In this module a general overview of wastewater constituents is given. Evidence on levels and trends in raw wastewater is provided and linked to…
11 Factsheets
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Module 3: Health & Risk Assessment

 This module will introduce and explore several of the human health dimensions of rural sanitation in the arctic, including, but not limited to, the…
22 Factsheets
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Module 4: Technology

 Current wastewater treatment systems (WWTS) in Arctic regions range from use of mechanical treatment plants or passive treatment systems as waste…
25 Factsheets
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Synthesis and Perspectives

Water management is a vital part of our day-to-day needs regardless of national, political, cultural and societal structures. However, today in the…
1 Factsheets
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Advocacy - Influencing Leaders (DC)

"Advocacy is the action of delivering an argument to gain commitment from political and social leaders and to prepare a society for a particular…

Waste Stabilization Ponds (WSP)

Waste Stabilization Ponds (WSPs) are large, man-made water bodies. The ponds can be used individually, or linked in a series for improved treatment.…

Anaerobic Baffled Reactor (ABR)

An anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR) is an improved [8217-septic tank] with a series of baffles under which the wastewater is forced to flow. The…

Septic Tank

A septic tank is a watertight chamber made of concrete, fibreglass, PVC or plastic, through which blackwater and greywater flows for primary…

Adult Learning Principles

Learning opportunities for adults exist in a variety of settings, ranging from a formal institution to day to day practical learning at work. It is…

Participatory Mapping

Principally, participatory mapping serves as a tool to provide a visual representation of information in a particular geographical context. It is…

Anaerobic Digestion (General)

Biogas sanitation is the treatment of waste and wastewater by a process called anaerobic digestion. During anaerobic digestion, the organic matter in…

Anaerobic Digestion (Small-scale)

A small-scale biogas reactor or anaerobic digester is an anaerobic treatment technology that produces (a) a digested slurry (digestate) that can be…

Anaerobic Digestion (Organic Waste)

Anaerobic biogas digesters are airtight reactors in which organic waste is decomposed and transformed into biogas by a biological process called…

Urine-Diverting Dry Toilet (UDDT)

A urine-diverting dry toilet (UDDT) is a toilet that operates without water and has a divider so that the user, with little effort, can divert the…

The Nutrient Cycle

The nutrient cycle describes how nutrients move from the physical environment into living organisms, and subsequently are recycled back to the…


River water is an important surface water resource for households, agriculture (e.g. irrigation, animal husbandry) and industry (e.g. processing…


Lakes are surface water sources, with water levels changing depending on the seasons. Lakes usually play an important role in the supply of water for…

Man-made Reservoirs

Man-made reservoirs, sometimes called artificial lakes, are important water sources in many countries around the world. In contrast to natural…


When groundwater makes its way to the earth’s surface and emerges as small water holes or wet spots, this feature is referred to as a spring. The use…

The "ARCTIC WASH" Perspective was developed by the SSWM team in collaboration with the Norwegian University of Lifesciences (NMBU), University of Alberta (UsA-Can), Canada; University of Alaska (UoA-US),USA; The Technical University of Denmark (DTU); Northern State Medical University (NSMU), Russia and The International Joint Research Centre for Arctic Ecosystem and Environment (IJRC-EAA) at the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), China.

It has been designed for the students of the training course “Sustainable Water Sanitation and Health in the Arctic” conducted by five universities in cooperation with other partners. But it can also be used by a larger audience learning or teaching in higher-education institutions or by WASH practitioners from all over the world involved or interested in sustainable Arctic WASH solutions.

This course material is an outcome of the project "Network for capacity building in water sanitation and health in the Arctic (NorCan)" funded by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SiU) and coordinated by the Norwegian university of Life Sciences (NMBU) and University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.   

Main Contributors:  

Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

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University of Alberta (UsA-Can)

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University of Alaska (UoA-US)


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The Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

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Northern State Medical University (NSMU)



Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT)

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Created by:  
seecon international gmbh
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