We make fake poo in a laboratory – to improve sanitation in Bangladesh. Phys.org, July 12, 2017.
Across the world, almost three billion people do not have the luxury of a flushing toilet. Instead they rely on static sanitation systems, like pit latrines to deal with their waste. As these are not often connected to a sewer, they require manual emptying and disposal.
Poor understanding of the risks involved means that untreated sludge is often thrown into nearby fields and rivers. The impact of this can be devastating.
Yet is is estimated that every dollar invested in better sanitation returns up to US$5.50 in social and economic benefits. These come through increased productivity, reduced healthcare costs and prevention of illness and early death.
A crucial part of improving sanitation lies in researching and developing simpler, more efficient ways of treating sludge in places where a sewerage and centralised waste water treatment is not available.
My research is part of a partnership with the engineering firm Buro Happold (BH) who were asked by WaterAid Bangladesh to find a sludge treatment technology which was effective, practical and affordable.
After considering options which included biogas and pit additives – products used to try and reduce sludge volume – the company opted for unplanted drying beds. They are simple in design and make use of the reasonable amount of sunshine in Bangladesh.
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