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.
Manual emptying. Credit: sswm.info
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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There are many interesting presentations, now online, from the 2017 Fecal Sludge Management Conference in India and the link to all of the presentations is at:
Below are links to presentations from IUWSASH, the Toilet Board Coalition and others:
Pivot Works factory in Kigali, Rwanda. From left to right: Fecal sludge receiving tank, flocculation tanks, mechanical dewatering machine. Photo: Ashley Muspratt
4,900 days from now, in 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals will expire. If that feels like a long time, consider the work ahead. And by work, I dare not attempt to wrap my head around all 17 goals; I refer specifically to the WASH goal – SDG #6 – and even more specifically to the sanitation targets.
From my admittedly invested perch – I run a sanitation company – the most exciting thing about transitioning from the MDGs to the SDGs is the belated inclusion of treatment. There’s finally recognition that “improved sanitation” without treatment is not improved sanitation. The WASH community’s new mandate: “halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally” (SDG 6.3). But consider that the urban population still requiring “safely managed sanitation” today stands at 3.214 billion . Serving them entails expanding safe management, i.e., some form of treatment, to 625,000 people each day for the next 4,900 days. That’s basically a city a day.
How can we achieve such a massive expansion of safe fecal sludge and wastewater management? For starters, let’s stop building treatment plants. Heresy? There’s a better way.
Scientists keen to change human waste to produce fertilizer and charcoal |Source: Daily News, April 17 2016 |
The Ifakara Health Institute (I.H.I) in collaboration with Bremen Overseas Research Development Association (BORDA) in Tanzania, have come up with an innovative human waste treatment and management technology that finally makes human feces a risk-free resource for producing fuel and fertilizers.
The brains behind this human feces treatment project are Dr. Jacqueline Thomas and Mr. Emmanuel Mrimi from I.H.I and Ms. Jutta Camargo from BORDA. It is an innovation that has come at the right time, and badly needed by cities like Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. In a big way, this project promises a sanitation challenge solution Mathare valley and Dar es Salaam residents can benefit from.
“With the significant reduction of pathogenic microorganisms”, Mr. Mrimi reassures you, “the treated human waste is safe. Users of these products do not put their health on the line.” The innovative Decentralized Waste Water Treatment Solutions (DEWATS) project is treating human waste in three different areas in Dar es Salaam. The project is supported by a grant from Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) which is part of an overall investment in innovation in Tanzania by UK Aid.
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