Waste to Wealth Project – UN University

About The Waste To Wealth Initiative at UNU-INWEH:
Lack of appropriate treatment of human waste, especially in rural communities, is unnecessarily contributing to morbidity and mortality. Given that almost all wastewater in developing countries is discharged directly into water bodies and poor water quality contributes to almost 10% of the global burden of disease, it is imperative to develop sustainable approaches to manage this wastewater.

Waste as a Resource: The economic benefits of nutrient recycling, biogas generation, soil amendment and new livelihoods from wastewater management will be a financial incentive for communities in developing countries to collect and treat their waste.

In terms of public health impacts, 10% of the global burden of disease is related to water, sanitation and hygiene. Child (under 5) mortality is reduced by 2.45 per 1,000 with access to improved sanitation. Returns on investment in improving wastewater management and infrastructure range between 3 and 34, providing resources to reduce poverty, and increase education rates and economic activity.

The creativity in this approach is related to both technological and social innovations. Biogas and ecological sanitation are increasing in popularity in developing countries, but face social taboos in some regions. Moreover, it is difficult to make a strong business case in communities in developing countries where wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure is not already in place. This initiative will leapfrog traditional approaches by combining wastewater collection services with cutting edge technologies for biogas production and nutrient recycling. Finally, the social innovation will come from the integration of communities and service providers into the business model.

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