Tag Archives: EAWAG

Preventing sanitation failure by using evidence-based behaviour change

Mass media campaign with loudspeaker rickshaw, Bangladesh. Photo: Eawag

Evidenced-based methods are more cost effective than traditional NGO awareness raising approaches to ensure sustained behaviour change in the WASH sector, says environmental psychologist Prof. Hans-Joachim Mosler.

Prof. Mosler

Two of his presentations on evidence-based behaviour change are now available online.  An accompanying guideline for behaviour change [1] was published in June 2012.

Mosler begins his first presentation with examples of failed sanitation and water projects. What they have in common is that they focus on hardware and neglect behaviour change. In one striking study, the construction of new school latrines actually increased health risks among girls because hygiene behaviour did not improve [2].

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Factors determining the effectiveness of Oxfam’s public health promotion approach in Haiti

Factors determining the effectiveness of Oxfam’s public health promotion approach in Haiti, 2012.

Nadja Contzen, Hans-Joachim Mosler. Eawag.

In response to the devastating Earthquake of January 12th 2010 and the cholera outbreak of October of that same year Oxfam Great Britain, Oxfam Quebec and Intermón Oxfam conducted public health promotion and cholera response in Haiti. Different promotion activities were applied which aimed at changing hygiene behavior by changing perceptions and beliefs about healthy behaviors amongst people affected by crisis.

In February 2011 four Oxfam affiliates in Haiti in partnership with a team of behavior change researchers from Eawag launched the present research project to do an in-depth evaluation of the promotional activities that had been conducted with the goal of further improving the WASH situation for people in Haiti and worldwide by understanding how to make hygiene promotion more effective. The main focus of the research project was around the question which specific promotion activities were strongly associated with perceptions and beliefs about handwashing with soap and were thus capable of changing handwashing behavior at key times.

South Africa: in Durban it pays to pee

A new initiative in South Africa is testing practical, community-scale ways to use urine as a fertiliser. The initiative is part of new project funded by the Gates Foundation.

Urine-diverting dry toilet in Umlazi, near Durban. Photo: Eawag

After installing about 90 000 urine-diversion toilets in home gardens, the port city of Durban now wants to install 20-litre (quart) containers on 500 of the toilets to capture urine, which can be turned into fertiliser.

Although a news item about the initiative claimed that the municipality would be paying households about around R30 (US$ 4.40) for a week’s supply of urine, the project coordinator Bastian Etter from Eawag, says that this is “an invention of a journalist of Agence France Presse (AFP) and not the strategy of the eThekwini Municipality”. “Neither the eThekwini Municipality nor our research team has set up a compensation scheme for collected urine”, Mr. Etter said in an e-mail.

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Nepal: opening of Urine Bank in Siddhipur

On Monday 17th of May 2010 the “Urine Bank” in Siddhipur, Nepal was inaugurated. The urine bank, which is a spin-off from the STruvite recovery from Urine in Nepal (STUN), is a pilot project aimed at increasing the re-use of nutrients from human urine. Source-separated urine is collected from households which don’t have a use for it and is sold for 1 Nepalese Rupee per litre to farmers who use it to fertilise their crops.

In Siddhipur about 100 Ecosan toilets have been installed by various NGOs; most of these are of a type that allows for separation of urine from faecal matter. Therefore approximately 35000 litres of urine are available for use as plant fertiliser annually. Various studies found however that a large percentage of the source-separated urine was never used, but leached into the ground instead. For this there were various reasons, the most important of which is that a lot of people don’t have fields close to their house, so they cannot very easily use the urine. In a bid to increase the re-use of nutrients the STUN project was set up in a collaboration between UN-HABITAT and EAWAG from Switzerland (www.eawag.ch/stun). The aim of the project is to precipitate Struvite (a phosphorus fertiliser) from the urine and then either use the effluent in drip irrigation or treat it so that it can be leached without causing ground or surface water pollution.

Dr. Roshan Shrestha (UN-Habitat) brought a donation of urine from his Ecosan house in Kathmandu. Photo. M. Zandee

The project found that though the precipitation process is simple and robust it could not be operated profitably if the urine has to be collected from many households. The main reason is that the process needs a magnesium source for the precipitation to happen, but currently there is no market for magnesium in Nepal and thus the price of the magnesium is too high locally. Further experiments with Struvite precipitation will be done at a school in Kathmandu where large amounts of urine are available in one spot.

During the project an increasing number of farmers in Siddhipur have started using urine as a fertiliser, because it yields good growth results while the crops require noticeably less chemical pesticides. As a result there is enough demand in the village for the urine and all of it will be used as long as it can be bought from a central point. In order to facilitate this a central collection tank has been installed, and a user committee has been established. For the collection the user committee employs one person equipped with a bicycle, and this collector is paid 50% of the revenue from the sales of the fertiliser. The remaining half is used to set up a maintenance fund.

The “P-cycle”. Photo: M. Zandee

As a result of the work of number of enthusiastic pioneering farmers and the effort of various NGOs, Siddhipur now sets an example of how to increase farm productivity and combat environmental degradation through a new view on human “waste”.

Tomatoes grown with urine fertiliser. Photo: M. Zandee

User committee invites the next speaker. Photo: M. Zandee

Text and pictures:

Marijn Zandee