The Application of Ecological Sanitation for Excreta Disposal in Disaster Relief

The Application of Ecological Sanitation for Excreta Disposal in Disaster Relief: Experience, Selection and Design; 2012.

Katherine Kinsted. Institute of Wastewater Management and Water Protection.

When responding to an emergency situation, ensuring safe excreta disposal is an urgent priority in the disaster relief effort. Aid organizations typically dig trench or pit latrines, but in some challenging environments, different methods such as ecological sanitation (Ecosan) must be employed. Ecosan is sanitation methods and technologies which promote the safe reuse rather than the disposal of excreta. Currently, Ecosan is mostly implemented in disaster relief for flood-prone areas and locations where excavation is not possible. In addition to meeting the sanitation needs of the affected population, Ecosan can be implemented to allow added benefits such as nutrient recovery, reforestation, and to help begin post-disaster recovery and the transition to peaceful and sustainable development.

Several examples of disaster relief situations where Ecosan methods are employed are investigated. Statistics about these case studies are presented along with successful and challenging aspects of the implementation. Four forms of Ecosan, urine diverting dehydration toilets (UDDT), Arborloo, biodegradable bags and composting toilets are discussed in six countries (Bolivia, Haiti, Chad, Philippines, New Zealand and Bangladesh). UDDTs had the widest extent of implementation and their flexible design makes them a good option for areas where excavation is difficult or there is a high chance of groundwater pollution (such as in flood prone regions). The composting processes offer the best success with reuse of excreta material as compost. Unfortunately though, these processes were quite complicated and do not necessary provide groundwater protection. The Arborloo provided a simpler solution with resource reuse, but this design is unfortunately not appropriate in regions where either excavation is not possible or where high groundwater is present. The Peepoo solution has shown itself to be successful in the preliminary trials, but the design still has many challenges such as cost effectiveness and user-friendliness.

In addition to exploring current case studies for Ecosan solutions, a sanitation decision flow chart is developed to compare different sanitation systems in different scenarios. In order to make a successful evaluation of the different technologies, the various design variables affecting the design of an appropriate excreta removal system are discussed. Unfortunately, the Ecosan solutions already employed have been rather expensive and timeconsuming to construct and/or they do not provide adequate groundwater protection.

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