Tag Archives: sludge use

Don’t think of treatment plants: building factories to meet the sanitation SDGs

Rwanda  - Pivot fecal sludge treatment 1

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 [1]. 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.

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The business of the honey-suckers in Bengaluru (India) – new IRC publication

A new IRC paper explores some contributions being made by honey-sucker tanker operators — that renders a small-scale sanitation service informally and within the private sector — on waste (faecal) extraction and, in some cases, reuse. Operating outside the legal framework of waste management, this paper provides preliminary insight into the limitations and potentials of the ‘honey-sucker business’ as a sanitation service model, based on selected experiences in Bengaluru (India).

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Productive sanitation – the honey suckers of Bengaluru

Indigenously developed honey sucker in Bengaluru (Bangalore), south India. Photo: Vishwanath Sankrathai

The dumping of untreated faecal sludge in urban areas has been described as an ecological time bomb. In African cities, typically less than 15 percent of residents are served by centralised sewage systems, and figures for Asian countries are not much better. Yet there is a growing number of examples where re-use of urban faecal waste as fertiliser is linking city households and peri-urban farmers in a chain that provides both affordable sanitation and soil fertility. A recent study of sanitation services provided in Bengaluru (Bangalore), in southern India, suggests such approaches deserve to be legalised and scaled up within an appropriate legal framework to ensure the safety of farm workers and consumers.

Read the full article in the New Agriculturist, July 2012

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Commercial productive use of faecal sludge in Bengaluru, India

Waste is a resource in the wrong place. People who have no sewer connection do go to the toilet though urban authorities seem to think differently given the neglect of the multitude of sanitation self-service models that have emerged in many cities.

During a webinar, which was organised on 2 May 2012, Joep Verhagen of the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre presented the results of a case study, which investigates a model that is based on the productive use of faecal sludge by farmers in and around Bengaluru (Bangalore), the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. This particular service has emerged without any technical or financial support.

For more IRC webinars go to: www.irc.nl/page/69625