About 31 million people now live in rural areas of the country. Of these, only 22% have access to adequate basic sanitation services, according to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), released in 2013. In the Southern Bahia Lowlands, where approximately 50% of the inhabitants are in the countryside, there is an initiative aimed at minimizing this problem: the Odebrecht Foundation’s partner institutions in the execution of the PDCIS, its Social Program, are implementing septic tanks in the properties of their beneficiaries.
This is the case of Mileno Andrade, 18, who lives in the Bonfim community, in Valença (BA). Mileno is a sophomore at the Presidente Tancredo Neves Rural Family House (CFR-PTN). He is part of the first group of young people who will have a septic tank on his property, where he lives with his mother, stepfather and a brother. “It is easy to build and to use. The waste does not go directly to the soil: there is a gravel box where it goes and gets filtered. When it reaches the ground, it has no more pollutants. We have to work to take care of other people and the environment”, explains the student.
Integration between institutions
The social technology of septic tanks was developed by the Municipality of Caratinga (MG) and certified in 2011 by the Banco do Brasil Foundation (FBB). Using plastic canisters, the system treats domestic sewage and prevents soil and water contamination. The Land Conservation Organization (OCT) has also been implementing the septic tanks in the properties of its beneficiaries and has conducted training with the three schools that are part of the PDCIS [CFR-PTN, Igrapiúna Rural Family House (CFR-I) and Agroforestry Family House (Cfaf)] so that the students in training and their families have access to basic sanitation.
For Eduardo Mamédio, Leader of Productive Conservation at OCT who participated in the training sessions, “it is very good to see this technology being disseminated in rural properties in the South Lowlands. The septic tank works well in the treatment of domestic wastewater, reducing environmental contamination and the spread of diseases. We have good results where we have already implemented it, especially when it is associated with the productive backyard, with the use of effluents already treated in the irrigation of perennial crops,” he says.
Each Family House has a partner company that provides the resources for implementation and the number of young people contemplated in this first moment. CFR-PTN is working with the Banco do Brasil Foundation and will implement 30 projects. The CFR-I and Cfaf have the support of Braskem and will benefit, respectively, 12 and 10 families. Rita Cardoso, director of Cfaf, explains how the selection of students worked: “We did an initial survey and identified those who needed it most at first, targeting sanitation and hygiene issues,” she says.
According to Rita, there is an intention to increase the number of people served in 2020. Furthermore, the school continues to look for ways to debate the theme and increase its visibility in the communities: “We have published a work on septic tanks and with this we give greater visibility on environmental health and well-being for all. We presented it at the Science and Technology Week of the Bahia Federal Institute, in Valença, in October”, says Rita.
Aline Novais, master in agronomy and biology teacher at CFR-I, reinforces that the adoption of this technique tries to improve the living conditions of rural producers and their relationship with the environment: “All the stages of this project have significantly increased the self-esteem of farmers, who says they are happier to receive visits at home. That’s what’s being noticed from the moment the property gains a septic tank,” she says.