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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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Sanitation Systems

Sanitation systems are a combination of different functional units that together allow managing and reusing or disposing the different waste flows…

(Co-) composting (Small-scale)

Composting at the household level is an important method for managing organic waste, which is normally the largest portion of household waste.…

Preventing Recontamination

Recontamination of clean or already treated water is a common problem in many countries. On the household level, there are several simple methods to…

Linking up Sustainable Sanitation, Water Management and Agriculture

Climate Change

Water, Sanitation and Economy

Water, Sanitation and Gender

Water, Sanitation and Culture

Water, Sanitation and Dignity

Water, Sanitation and Development

Water Safety Plans

Water Safety Plans are an improved risk management tool designed to ensure the safety of drinking water through the use of a comprehensive risk…

Empowering Young People as Promoters (DC)

Empowering young people as promoters in the field of water and sanitation is a way of assuring that a project or programme has a greater effect and…

Social Marketing (DC)

Social marketing is the use of commercial marketing techniques to promote the adoption of behaviour that will improve the health or well-being of the…

Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation

With growing emphasis on participatory approaches towards development, there has been recognition that monitoring and evaluation (M&E) should…

Pathogens & Contaminants

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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