Tag Archives: fertilisers

BRAC WASH releases video on faecal sludge management

The BRAC WASH programme has released a short video about their ongoing study in Bangladesh on the use  of faecal sludge from double pit latrines as organic fertiliser.

The final evaluation of BRAC WASH I programme identified pit emptying and the safe final disposal of sludge as a key ‘second generation’ challenge for the near future. To address this, BRAC is undertaking action research to ensure the safe reuse of faecal sludge in the BRAC WASH II programme, answering the following questions:

  • Does the faecal sludge comply with the WHO Guidelines on microbiological quality after one year of storage?
  • What is the nutrient content of the faecal sludge?
  • Is it possible to make faecal sludge-based organic fertiliser production commercially viable?

In 2013, the UK-based School of Civil Engineering at the University of Leeds won a BRAC WASH II research call for secondary treatment options for faecal sludge. Their project is called Value at the end of the Sanitation Value-chain (VeSV).

The University of Leeds is working together with three other partners: Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), NGO Forum for Public Health (Bangladesh), and IWMI International Water Management Institute (Sri Lanka).

More information:

 

 

 

Sri Lanka: new partnership tackles fecal sludge management

Septage disposal. Sri Lanka/Nuwara Eliya sanitation project, 2008, Photo: Flickr/USAID.

An international research institute is helping the government of Sri Lanka to improve septage management in the country.

On 8 May 2013, the Colombo-based International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the Ministry of Water Supply and Drainage signed a Memorandum of Understanding that provides a collaborative framework for sustainable septage management in Sri Lanka.

IWMI will contribute research data for the drafting of a septage management component of the national sanitation policy. The Ministry will lead implementation of the policy through an advisory committee headed by Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

Only about 3% of Sri Lankans have a sewerage connection while the rest rely on latrines and septic tanks for sanitation. Safe disposal of septage (fecal sludge) is a problem because of a lack of treatment facilities in large parts of the country.

IWMI is studying a new approach in cities around the world, which treats the sludge so that it can be safely reused as agricultural fertiliser. With the rising costs of imported fertiliser, such an approach would not only benefit farmers but also allow better sanitation and environmental protection for all.

Related news:

  • The business of the honey-suckers in Bengaluru (India), E-Source, 27 Sep 2012
  • WASHplus Weekly: Focus on Fecal Sludge Management, Sanitation Updates, 30 Nov 2012

Related web sites:

 Source: IWMI, 8 May 2013

Nepal: local NGO collecting urine of Maoist leaders

Unified CPN (Maoist) leaders at the inauguration ceremony of their party meeting in Palungtar, Gorkha, on 21 Nov. 2010. Photo: Ramkrishna Sharma / Nepalnews.com

A local Nepal is collecting the urine of over 6,000 cadres and leaders attending the sixth extended meeting of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in Palungtar, Gorkha. The intention is to convert the urine into fertiliser, said SEWA Nepal coordinator Srirendra Pokhrel.

The Extended Meeting Housing and Construction Sub Committee has constructed more than 200 toilets, costing Rs 500 (US$ 7.10) each for the meeting, which started on 21 November 21, 2010. Each toilet has a plastic pan and there are 300 funnels and jerrycans to collect urine.

In July 2010 SEWA-Nepal hit the headlines with its “Take a Pee & Get One Rupee” initiative in Chitwan.

Related web site: RCNN – Nepal Node for Sustainable Sanitation (NNSS)

Source: Bhimlal Shrestha, Nepal Samacharpatra / NGO Forum, 16 Nov 2010

Nepal, Chitwan: a toilet revolution

Take a Pee & Get One Rupee. If you have traveled on the Prithvi Highway last year, you must have noticed this seemingly-ridiculous slogan in Darechowk, near Kurintar. Of course, if you have used public toilets before, then you may be more used to paying a rupee to urinate. Instead, members of The Sewa Nepal, a local NGO, pay anyone a rupee if he or she uses their toilet. And no, they are not joking.

“Previously, people used to mock us but now they have realized the message we are trying to convey: Urine is a valuable asset,” says Srirendra Shrestha, founder and coordinator of the NGO. Thus, what the NGO does is collect the urine and convert it to fertilizers for the villagers around. A pretty unique business idea, but there’s more to this than just that.

The NGO, which is involved in environmental conservation and community sanitation, has actively pursued to make Darechowk a model Village Development Committee (VDC). The group’s efforts finally became successful when Darechowk was declared the 18th Open Defecation Free (ODF) VDC in Chitwan a week ago—thus paving the way for a cleaner, sanitized village.

The ODF movement in Nepal has been supported by the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS) in coordination with World Health Organization, UNICEF and NGOs like Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO). The Sewa Nepal has been the local partner of the movement, providing toilet pans and pipes to individual households in Darechowk. Locals say this is a sanitation movement led by the common people. Thus, among the 1,656 households in the VDC, more than half have a proper toilet. Further, around 770 houses have built an EcoSan (short for ecological sanitation) toilet, the most preferred type as it can collect human waste that can be used as fertiliser.

[...]

Mina Pokharel

Mina Pokharel has been using human manure for the past year and is quite impressed with the results. “After I started using urine as fertilizer, the yield has been very good and the vegetables taste better too,” she says. Did it ever feel disgusting? “It did in the beginning. But once I started reaping the benefits, I realized the value of our own waste.”

This revolutionary ecological movement is spearheaded by the VDC officials themselves. The VDC allocated part of its annual budget to support the movement by providing two sacks of cement to each household with additional monetary support for poor families. “We spent about Rs. 1 million [US$ 13,300 = € 10,100] on this movement,” says VDC secretary Nilkantha Lamichchane. “Declaring the VDC an ODF village has immensely boosted the morale of villagers. We hope to have proper toilets in all the households by the end of this year.”

Teachers have played a central role in this movement, which took its current shape after DWSS conducted a School-Led Total Sanitation project in 2006 in the district. The programme stressed on teaching sanitation habits in schools and also held discussions and sanitation awareness campaigns, besides training teachers on the use of various types of toilets. The programme was largely successful; since then 378 community schools and 239 public and private schools in the district have been declared ODF schools. The excitement associated with this movement has spilled over to adjoining VDCs of neighboring districts as well. Villagers from Makwanpur, Gorkha and Dhading are trying to follow the Darechowk model and implement the programme in earnest. However, no municipality has yet been declared ODF in Nepal.

In a country where only 27 percent of the population has access to sanitation, this model is proving to be one of the few shining lights. Districts like Jajarkot and Rukum saw the deaths of hundreds last year due to diarrhoea, a disease that could have been prevented had this model been implemented there. The ODF model is not only important for health reasons. There are important sociological impacts that having a private toilet has had in Darechowk.

Ask Sadhana Adhikari, for instance. The 15-year-old student says a toilet is the best thing to have happened to her. “I don’t have to suffer any more embarrassments during my periods. The toilet offers me privacy and it’s easier to remain clean during that time.”

Related web site: RCNN – Nepal Node for Sustainable Sanitation (NNSS)

Source: Ujjwal Pradhan, Kathmandu Post / NGO Forum, 24 Jul 2010

Terra Preta sanitation: re-discovered from an ancient Amazonian civilisation

Ecosan researchers have found inspiration in the Pre-Columbian black soil (Terra Preta) of the Amazon Basin for “the re-creation of the most successful sanitation system ever”. They will share their enthusiasm in the 1st Workshop on Terra Preta Sanitation with up to 60 participants from 27-30 September 2010 in Groß Ippener (near Bremen), Germany.

The recent discovery of the bio-waste and excreta treatment of a former civilisation in the Amazon reveals the possibility of a highly efficient and simple sanitation system. With the end product that was black soil they converted 10% of former infertile soil of the region into excellent land: Terra Preta do Indio (black soil of the Indians). These soils are still very fertile 500 years after this civilisation has disappeared. Deriving from these concepts, Terra Petra Sanitation (TPS) is in re-development [from the Workshop brochure].

Terra preta soils made by sanitation (adapted from Guenther 2007)

The 3-day Workshop is organised by the Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection, of the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH). Besides presentations, discussions and hands-on-work, the organisers promise that there “will be sufficient time for walking, jogging, music (bring your instruments!) or meditation”.

Resource persons are Prof. Dr. Ralf Otterpohl (TUHH), Dr. Jürgen Reckin (10 years of experience with Terra Preta and one of the wold’s best experts in garden plant varieties), Christopher Buzie (years of research in ecological sanitation and vermicomposting, networker in West Africa, TUHH), Torsten Bettendorf and Horacio Factura (Terra Preta Sanitation researchers at TUHH).

Prof Otterpohl and his colleagues have recently published an article on TPS:

Factura, H. … [et al.] , Bettendorf, T., Buzie, C, Pieplow H, Reckin J, Otterpohl R. (2010). Terra Preta sanitation : re-discovered from an ancient Amazonian civilisation : integrating sanitation, bio-waste management and agriculture. Water science and technology ; vol. 61, no. 10 ; p. 2673-2679. doi:10.2166/wst.2010.201

TPS includes urine diversion, addition of a charcoal mixture and is based on lactic-acid-fermentation with subsequent vermicomposting. No water, ventilation or external energy is required. Natural formation processes are employed to transform excreta into lasting fertile soil that can be utilised in urban agriculture. The authors studied the lacto-fermentation of faecal matter with a minimum of 4 weeks followed by vermicomposting. The results showed that lactic-acid fermentation with addition of a charcoal mixture is a suitable option for dry toilets as the container can be closed after usage. Hardly any odour occured even after periods of several weeks. Lactic-acid fermentation alone without addition of bulking agents such as paper and sliced-cut wood to raise the C/N ratio is creating a substrate that is not accepted by worms. [from the abstract]

See also a Powerpoint presentation by Prof. Otterpohl on Terra Petra Sanitation.

Download the Workshop brochure

Zambia: turning urine into gold

When he ordered his colleagues at the Water and Sanitation Association of Zambia (WASAZA) to save all their urine in a plastic bottle in the office toilet, they thought he was mad. But German sanitation specialist Christopher Kellner wanted to demonstrate why he calls urine “liquid gold”.

“(Urine) contains the three most important plant nutrients which farmers buy as artificial fertiliser. These are nitrogen, phosphorus) and potassium – but it also contains all eight micronutrients plants need for growth,” Kellner explains.

Seconded to the Water and Sanitation Association of Zambia (WASAZA) by the Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA) and the Centre for International Migration and Development of Germany, Kellner wasted no time setting up a urine-fertilised vegetable garden on the grounds of the WASAZA offices in Luskaka.

Workers’ pee is collected and used in the garden on Great East Road, across the road from the University of Zambia campus, and vegetables given to the urine donors to illustrate the valuable commodity that’s usually pissed away.

Kellner and his team at WASAZA are busy pushing on with developing and popularising a latrine that will separate human waste into two components – urine and solid matter, so they can be processed into two different forms of manure.

Kellner is piloting a system called a “fertiliser-producing toilet” which focuses on re-use of solid waste. Such a toilet, once integrated into gardening, will never fill up.

When a user sits on one of the new toilets, the urine will go one way to a storage tank fitted with a compressor and a valve, from where it can be collected for direct use as liquid fertiliser after dilution.

The solid waste will fall into a shallow pit where it will be covered with soil and compacted; it will dry it out and neutralise it before it is ready for use as fertiliser. Any smell is vented out through a pipe.

“The original idea is to enrich the vegetative growth in our immediate vicinity. But it can be sold at prevailing prices. These days dried sludge from sewerage works has a price of ZMK7,500 (around $1.60) per ton,” notes Kellner.

According to the Zambian government’s 2000 census, just under 15 percent of Zambia’s 1.8 million households had access to flush toilets or ventilated improved pit latrines. Even simple pit latrines are considered a luxury in rural communities and in the high-density urban settlements aruof Lusaka and the Copper Belt, where poverty is endemic.

Kellner says the toilet they are building now costs $1,800. “But the challenge is to get the same basic idea realised for a quarter of this or even less.”

Kellner reckons that on average, a person will produce 500 litres of urine and around 50 kg of faeces a year; so a a family of six can easily turn their waste into fertiliser for 1,000 square metres of garden.

“If we can popularise this type of pit latrine, then we can drastically cut the fertiliser costs of small farmers. We can encourage people to have fun and success from their gardens.”

Read more about urine diverting toilets on Akvopedia’s sanitation portal.

Source: Lewis Mwanangombe, IPS, 26 Dec 2009

Tomatoes thrive on urine diet

Using human urine as a fertiliser produces bumper crops of tomatoes that are safe to eat, scientists have found.

Their research was published in August 2009 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Surendra Pradhan, an environmental biology researcher at the University of Kuopio, Finland, and colleagues gave potted tomato plants one of three treatments: mineral fertiliser, urine and wood ash, urine only, and no fertiliser. Urine is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Yields for plants fertilised with urine quadrupled and matched those of mineral-fertilised plants. The urine-fertilised tomatoes also contained more protein and were safe for human consumption.

Pradhan says that the method is a free alternative to expensive mineral fertiliser, which is also not easily available in remote or hilly areas. Pradhan also believes that the idea could improve sanitation by incentivising toilet-building.

A pilot programme based on the research will be launched in Nepal in November [2009] , says Pradhan.

But Håkan Jönsson, eco-agriculture and sanitation system technology expert at the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden, told SciDev.Net: “The amount [of urine] that can be collected from a person or a family is fairly small (equivalent to about two bags of fertiliser per year for a west African family).[The technique] is of great value to a subsistence farmer but does not suffice for even a medium-scale cash-crop farm.”

He adds that to fertilise larger areas, many urine-diverting toilets would have to be linked up to a good transportation system.

There are also cultural issues. In most cultures, Jönsson says, faeces are considered impure and urine is viewed in a similar way, even though the hygiene risk associated with it is minimal.

Pradhan says that studies will be done to assess how acceptable the idea is in different cultures. His team will also investigate ways of decontaminating any faecal matter in urine collected from a toilet using a jerry can.

He adds: “For large-scale implementation of this idea, we are trying to find different methods to reduce the volume of the urine in economic way, without losing the nutrients”.

Link to full article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry [750kb]

Source: Wagdy Sawahel, SciDev.net, 09 Sep 2009

Grant: IFAD supports the linkages between sanitation and agriculture

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has awarded a grant to CREPA and SEI to manage a project entitled “Testing a nutrient recycling system (Productive Sanitation Systems) in Niger with a view to measuring its potential for improving agricultural productivity”.

In the context of the soaring world fertilizer prices, the ca. billion poor smallholder farmers in the world have to use alternative solutions to produce affordable nutrients which can sustain agricultural food production. A new paradigm in agriculture is in the making linking it to sanitation systems using e.g. urine source-separation, collection and reuse as a chemical fertilizer. IFAD has the interest to test this Productive Sanitation System (PSS) to improve the situation for poor smallholder farmers by providing access to safe human-generated fertilizer for crops.

This pilot project will be integrated into the PPILDA project in the Maradi region (South Niger) to address specifically the improvement of low soil fertility in optimizing nutrient reuse (with hygienised urine). It will test whether Productive Sanitation Systems are accepted by the local population and if it provides an increase in food production, nutrition, income and health in the pilot communities. A comparative analysis with commercial chemical fertilizers will be carried out. The work is based on similar previous successful projects in Africa by CREPA and SEI.

Web sites:

Contact: Laurent Stravato, IFAD ; Anselme Vodhounessi CREPA ; Arno Rosemarin, SEI

Nepal: Waste of Zoo in packets

The garbage and animal waste produced in the Central Zoo of Kathmandu is being composted and sold as fertiliser.  The Nepal Pollution Control and Environment Management Centre (NEPCEMAC) sells packets of 1, 5 and 25 kg at Rs. 20 [21 Euro cents = 32 US dollar cents] per kg. The zoo produces 9 tons of garbage every month.

Read more: Kantipur / NGO Forum, 13 Mar 2008