Safe Water Gardens & Nazava Water Filters – A holistic approach to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

In development contexts, WASH, which stands for WAter, Sanitation, & Hygiene, are often grouped together as a single issue. However, in practice most WASH practitioners are divided into Water and their Sanitation and Hygiene counterparts. Few holistic solutions exist addressing the three issues together. Nazava’s partnership with social enterprise Safe Water Gardens (SWG) provides an innovative three-pronged approach to address the WASH problem in Indonesia.

24,000 Indonesian children die each year due to poor sanitation and bad quality water. 

Globally 4.2 billion people lack proper sanitation and 4.4 billion people do not have access to treated water in their home. As a result, diarrheal diseases are responsible for 1.5 million deaths each year and is the third leading cause of child mortality [1]. In Indonesia alone, 24,000 children a year die due to diarrheal diseases [2], which are caused by bad sanitation and the lack of safe drinking water. Indonesia’s WASH problem contributes to stunting, affecting nearly a third of Indonesian children. In Indonesia, the cost of inadequate sanitation is estimated at US$6.3bn or 2.4% of GDP. According to the World Bank, Indonesia’s next generation will only be 53% as productive as it could be if stunting was addressed [3].

Government efforts to address Indonesia’s WASH problem are falling below expectations.

To tackle the WASH problem, Indonesia’s Ministry of Health has advocated an approach called Sanitatsi Total Berbasis Masyarakat or “Community Based Total Sanitation” (STBM). The STBM strategy aims to decrease the prevalence of diarrheal and other diseases related to sanitation and behavior. STBM contains five pillars:

  1. Access to basic sanitation facilities, creating communities that are free from open defecation.
  2. Safe drinking water and food management in every household.
  3. Adequate hand washing facilities at every household and public facilities.
  4. Proper household solid waste management.
  5. Proper household liquid waste management.

According to the National Sanitasi Berbasis Masyarakat, or “Community Based Sanitation” (SANIMAS) program, the government’s target for rural access to safe water and sanitation during the 2015-2019 period was to be in 94,454 locations. However, results of the program fell far below expectations. This is mainly due to the high costs, time, and heavy machinery needed to complete each unit. 

Sanitation penetration rate is well below expectations. (Orange provinces are those that fall under national targets.)

Solution: Safe Water Gardens & Nazava Water Filters – Safe Water and Sanitation for just US$250 per household.  

SWG and Nazava Water Filters provide a simple, affordable solution to provide safe sanitation and drinking water to rural and peri urban households. 

The main components of the SWG system include:

  1. A closed plastic 500 liter tank (the liquefier) connected to the toilet & the shower/laundry (filled up with water to overflow point)
  2. A 2 x 3 x 0.5 m leach field (garden), where the fully liquefied wastewater is safely released underground. The liquefied wastewater serves as a natural fertilizer for food production.
  3. A system of pipes connecting the parts.
  4. A separate kitchen sink with a separate small leach field.

Diagram of a Safe Water Garden system

The leach field doubles as a garden which can be used to grow delicious, nutritious food that families can consume themselves or sell for an extra source of income. Each SWG system comes with its own Nazava Water Filter. Nazava Water Filters are WHO-certified to purify rain, well, river, or tap water, making it free from bacterial contamination. Together, SWG and Nazava address all five STBM pillars and directly impact 15 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17). 

Running water supply is usually provided by a simple water tower, a small pump, and some pipes to the water source. These water towers are commonplace, seen all over Indonesia, and most Indonesian families know how to build such systems themselves. The systems lend themselves very well to sharing, which makes them highly affordable.

SWG & Nazava users not only get access to safe water and sanitation, but also delicious food in a single affordable package!

At a cost of US$250 per household, the SWG system is 3x cheaper than the alternative. Public village funds which amount to US$200 per household, is enough to pay for a significant portion of the SWG system. SWG also works with micro-finance institutions (MFIs) to reduce the upfront cost. Once a SWG system is set up, it requires no additional maintenance. Nazava Water Filters last for 7,000 liters, or about 3 years worth, and replacement filters cost just US$8. 

Building a SWG system is easy and can be completed by village families in one day. This model works well with Indonesian culture of gotong royong or “communal work” which is commonplace in villages all over Indonesia. 

Building a SWG system requires no heavy machinery and can be completed in just one day.

Over 5,000 people now have safe sanitation and drinking water, but that’s just the beginning! 

To date over 700 SWG and Nazava Water Filter systems have been built in villages all over Indonesia including Batam, Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Java. This has impacted over 5,000 people with safe sanitation, drinking water, and nutritious food. SWG and Nazava both have school programs to provide access to safe water and sanitation to schools. SWG has provided sanitation systems to more than a dozen schools in Kalimantan and Bintan. Nazava has provided safe drinking water to over 800 schools in Lebak Regency, Banten province. More information about Nazava’s Safe Drinking Water for School Program can be found here.

Student and teachers at De Green School in Kalimantan, with their Nazava Water Filter

By 2028, SWG aims to cover all of rural Indonesia with complete WASH systems, including Nazava Water Filters. This will be done by setting up “model villages” which serve as local WASH teaching and SWG distribution centers for their respective regions. One model village is already active in Bintan, with 10 more scheduled to launch in 2023. After 2023, 50-100 model villages will be set up each year. 500 model villages is all that is needed to reach all of Indonesia! This will be paid for using a combination of CSR funding, village funds, and loans from MFIs. 

SWG and Nazava hope that this model will inspire other WASH organizations to seek similar partnerships. Working together is the only way to achieve SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation for All, by 2030!  Just now, the Safe Water Garden was selected as one of (only!) 18 exhibitions in the Innovation pavilion of the 22-24 March 2023 UN Water Conference – the first such water conference since 1977. The Safe Water Garden team will make use of this global platform to share the holistic micro WASH experiences with Nazava!

For more information, or to learn how you can be involved, please contact Dr. Marc van Loo at [email protected] or Steven Ramsey at [email protected].


[1] Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network. Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 (GBD 2019) Reference Life Table. Seattle, United States of America: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), 2021. 

[2] UNICEF Indonesia. UNICEF. (2022, July 22). Retrieved from

[3] “World Bank. 2021. Indonesia Vision 2045 : Toward Water Security. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”