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Trees to filter wastewater in Hunza 2022-06-08

Wednesday, 2022, June 8
AKDN has planted over 100 million trees in the past 50 years, building “green infrastructure” to help improve the quality of lif

In Murtazabad, a mountain village in Hunza, Pakistan, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) has introduced a system that uses trees to safely and sustainably treat wastewater. AKAH, together with the local community, planted thousands of trees and aquatic plants to filter treated wastewater, limiting the release of effluent into the Hunza River. This “green infrastructure” helps improve access to sustainable, clean sanitation while also restoring the natural ecosystem.

AKAH constructed a water supply system to provide clean water to 350 households in the village and worked with the community so that it can manage and maintain the system. AKAH also supported each household in constructing safe, private latrines in each home, connected to a central sewage treatment plant. To prevent effluent from the treatment plant from running off into the Hunza river, it introduced a community-led afforestation initiative. If managed properly, instead of being a source of problems, wastewater can provide benefits for society, the economy and the environment. Chemicals and minerals in the wastewater can act as nutrients for the trees which absorb these pollutants, leaving behind cleaner water.

AKAH engaged the local community in the plantation efforts and worked with it to define roles, responsibilities and processes to monitor and care for the trees. They not only improve the natural beauty of the site but help to protect water resources and the environment.

Introducing this nature-based sewage management system in Murtazabad is one of many small steps AKAH is taking with communities in greener building, energy efficiency and other climate action to scale up initiatives that improve the quality of life and protect our planet.

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