Yoff Sustainable Wastewater System

Exhibition: Cities | October 11, 2011 by

Yoff, an urban area bordering the Atlantic Ocean in the dense city of Dakar, Senegal, is rapidly urbanizing. Its population has doubled since 1988, putting increased pressure on land in which open space is quickly subsumed by housing. Inadequate urban planning has resulted in insufficient infrastructure and services. Narrow streets prevent access for water and sanitation trucks to properly dispose of wastewater, such as greywater generated from household bathing, laundry, and dishwashing. It was common practice for Yoff’s residents to dump used household water on the beach, resulting in not just significant loss of water—a valuable resource in the arid community—but also coastal pollution and unsanitary conditions.

In 2002, a branch of Environment and Development Action (ENDA), a leading international development organization that is headquartered in Dakar and works in twenty-one countries across Africa, South America, and Asia, collaborated with Yoff residents to design and implement a sustainable, gravity-fed wastewater system. Based on an earlier pilot project in the town of Rufisque, Senegal, the system collects household greywater in small settling tanks before sending it “downstream” to larger collection basins, or lagoons, where it is treated and purified with aquatic plants. The recycled greywater is then used for irrigation, urban agriculture, and toilet systems. The community established a committee to manage the system, and signs painted by community members educate others on proper disposal of used water in the system.

Designer: Environment and Development Action–Relay for Participatory Urban Development, with Yoff area community. Yoff, Dakar, Senegal, 2002–11. Manholes, pits, PVC pipes, drains, gravel filters


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