Money from waste? Revamp your view on sanitation. Water Blog, July 2018.
As an undergraduate student in Kampala, my head was full of thoughts about how I was going to make a living after my studies. Back then Rich Dad Poor Dad was still a best-seller, and I thought to myself: I can become a billionaire if I sell a billion of something to a billion people. Needless to say, it would have to be something that anyone can afford, like toothpaste or chewing gum.
So, I wondered, what does every human need? It dawned on me: everyone needs water, food, and energy, every day. The next question was how I could make valuable goods from all the three as a civil engineer.
A fascination with sanitation
Over the course of my studies, I became interested in the intimate connections between water, food, and energy. I learnt about the water and nutrient cycles, and how we can recover resources from waste and use them to fertilize crops and generate energy.
Looking at the supply side, each of us generates about 1.5 litres of excreta daily – all together, a huge amount of waste. We can, of course, flush it down the drain and into our rivers, lakes, and oceans; or we can turn our pee and poo into valuable resources, like power and protein.
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