Tag Archives: urine diverting toilets

Smart, eco-friendly sanitation for all in China, lessons for India

Invest in sanitation and wastewater, make treated wastewater available for reuse in urban areas and reduce the GDP loss due to bad health and disease which bad sanitation brings. These are the lessons that India can learn from neighbouring China, says S. Vishwanath, a writer on sustainable water management and sanitation issues.

The four storied apartments in Dongsheng District of Erdos Municipality in Inner Mongolia, China look like any apartment, all 825 of them. They look the same that is until you use the toilet. Detailed instructions nailed to the door tell you how to use them. The urine diverting toilets flush with sawdust instead of water. Urine is collected in tanks tucked away in the basement of the building and used as a fertiliser in a surrounding agricultural field. The solids are composted and reused also as fertiliser. Grey-water coming from the washing machine and bath is treated at a small treatment plant in the development and reused for landscape use. The people who bought the flats did so knowing fully well the systems of sanitation in place and paid the same market rates as the flats which had conventional sanitation systems. This is China’s brave new world of waste and wastewater management.

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Nepal: local NGO collecting urine of Maoist leaders

Unified CPN (Maoist) leaders at the inauguration ceremony of their party meeting in Palungtar, Gorkha, on 21 Nov. 2010. Photo: Ramkrishna Sharma / Nepalnews.com

A local Nepal is collecting the urine of over 6,000 cadres and leaders attending the sixth extended meeting of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in Palungtar, Gorkha. The intention is to convert the urine into fertiliser, said SEWA Nepal coordinator Srirendra Pokhrel.

The Extended Meeting Housing and Construction Sub Committee has constructed more than 200 toilets, costing Rs 500 (US$ 7.10) each for the meeting, which started on 21 November 21, 2010. Each toilet has a plastic pan and there are 300 funnels and jerrycans to collect urine.

In July 2010 SEWA-Nepal hit the headlines with its “Take a Pee & Get One Rupee” initiative in Chitwan.

Related web site: RCNN – Nepal Node for Sustainable Sanitation (NNSS)

Source: Bhimlal Shrestha, Nepal Samacharpatra / NGO Forum, 16 Nov 2010

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, Chitwan: a toilet revolution

Take a Pee & Get One Rupee. If you have traveled on the Prithvi Highway last year, you must have noticed this seemingly-ridiculous slogan in Darechowk, near Kurintar. Of course, if you have used public toilets before, then you may be more used to paying a rupee to urinate. Instead, members of The Sewa Nepal, a local NGO, pay anyone a rupee if he or she uses their toilet. And no, they are not joking.

“Previously, people used to mock us but now they have realized the message we are trying to convey: Urine is a valuable asset,” says Srirendra Shrestha, founder and coordinator of the NGO. Thus, what the NGO does is collect the urine and convert it to fertilizers for the villagers around. A pretty unique business idea, but there’s more to this than just that.

The NGO, which is involved in environmental conservation and community sanitation, has actively pursued to make Darechowk a model Village Development Committee (VDC). The group’s efforts finally became successful when Darechowk was declared the 18th Open Defecation Free (ODF) VDC in Chitwan a week ago—thus paving the way for a cleaner, sanitized village.

The ODF movement in Nepal has been supported by the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS) in coordination with World Health Organization, UNICEF and NGOs like Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO). The Sewa Nepal has been the local partner of the movement, providing toilet pans and pipes to individual households in Darechowk. Locals say this is a sanitation movement led by the common people. Thus, among the 1,656 households in the VDC, more than half have a proper toilet. Further, around 770 houses have built an EcoSan (short for ecological sanitation) toilet, the most preferred type as it can collect human waste that can be used as fertiliser.


Mina Pokharel

Mina Pokharel has been using human manure for the past year and is quite impressed with the results. “After I started using urine as fertilizer, the yield has been very good and the vegetables taste better too,” she says. Did it ever feel disgusting? “It did in the beginning. But once I started reaping the benefits, I realized the value of our own waste.”

This revolutionary ecological movement is spearheaded by the VDC officials themselves. The VDC allocated part of its annual budget to support the movement by providing two sacks of cement to each household with additional monetary support for poor families. “We spent about Rs. 1 million [US$ 13,300 = € 10,100] on this movement,” says VDC secretary Nilkantha Lamichchane. “Declaring the VDC an ODF village has immensely boosted the morale of villagers. We hope to have proper toilets in all the households by the end of this year.”

Teachers have played a central role in this movement, which took its current shape after DWSS conducted a School-Led Total Sanitation project in 2006 in the district. The programme stressed on teaching sanitation habits in schools and also held discussions and sanitation awareness campaigns, besides training teachers on the use of various types of toilets. The programme was largely successful; since then 378 community schools and 239 public and private schools in the district have been declared ODF schools. The excitement associated with this movement has spilled over to adjoining VDCs of neighboring districts as well. Villagers from Makwanpur, Gorkha and Dhading are trying to follow the Darechowk model and implement the programme in earnest. However, no municipality has yet been declared ODF in Nepal.

In a country where only 27 percent of the population has access to sanitation, this model is proving to be one of the few shining lights. Districts like Jajarkot and Rukum saw the deaths of hundreds last year due to diarrhoea, a disease that could have been prevented had this model been implemented there. The ODF model is not only important for health reasons. There are important sociological impacts that having a private toilet has had in Darechowk.

Ask Sadhana Adhikari, for instance. The 15-year-old student says a toilet is the best thing to have happened to her. “I don’t have to suffer any more embarrassments during my periods. The toilet offers me privacy and it’s easier to remain clean during that time.”

Related web site: RCNN – Nepal Node for Sustainable Sanitation (NNSS)

Source: Ujjwal Pradhan, Kathmandu Post / NGO Forum, 24 Jul 2010

Zambia: turning urine into gold

When he ordered his colleagues at the Water and Sanitation Association of Zambia (WASAZA) to save all their urine in a plastic bottle in the office toilet, they thought he was mad. But German sanitation specialist Christopher Kellner wanted to demonstrate why he calls urine “liquid gold”.

“(Urine) contains the three most important plant nutrients which farmers buy as artificial fertiliser. These are nitrogen, phosphorus) and potassium – but it also contains all eight micronutrients plants need for growth,” Kellner explains.

Seconded to the Water and Sanitation Association of Zambia (WASAZA) by the Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA) and the Centre for International Migration and Development of Germany, Kellner wasted no time setting up a urine-fertilised vegetable garden on the grounds of the WASAZA offices in Luskaka.

Workers’ pee is collected and used in the garden on Great East Road, across the road from the University of Zambia campus, and vegetables given to the urine donors to illustrate the valuable commodity that’s usually pissed away.

Kellner and his team at WASAZA are busy pushing on with developing and popularising a latrine that will separate human waste into two components – urine and solid matter, so they can be processed into two different forms of manure.

Kellner is piloting a system called a “fertiliser-producing toilet” which focuses on re-use of solid waste. Such a toilet, once integrated into gardening, will never fill up.

When a user sits on one of the new toilets, the urine will go one way to a storage tank fitted with a compressor and a valve, from where it can be collected for direct use as liquid fertiliser after dilution.

The solid waste will fall into a shallow pit where it will be covered with soil and compacted; it will dry it out and neutralise it before it is ready for use as fertiliser. Any smell is vented out through a pipe.

“The original idea is to enrich the vegetative growth in our immediate vicinity. But it can be sold at prevailing prices. These days dried sludge from sewerage works has a price of ZMK7,500 (around $1.60) per ton,” notes Kellner.

According to the Zambian government’s 2000 census, just under 15 percent of Zambia’s 1.8 million households had access to flush toilets or ventilated improved pit latrines. Even simple pit latrines are considered a luxury in rural communities and in the high-density urban settlements aruof Lusaka and the Copper Belt, where poverty is endemic.

Kellner says the toilet they are building now costs $1,800. “But the challenge is to get the same basic idea realised for a quarter of this or even less.”

Kellner reckons that on average, a person will produce 500 litres of urine and around 50 kg of faeces a year; so a a family of six can easily turn their waste into fertiliser for 1,000 square metres of garden.

“If we can popularise this type of pit latrine, then we can drastically cut the fertiliser costs of small farmers. We can encourage people to have fun and success from their gardens.”

Read more about urine diverting toilets on Akvopedia’s sanitation portal.

Source: Lewis Mwanangombe, IPS, 26 Dec 2009

Company starts marketing urine-separating toilets in Chile

Chilean chemical solutions firm Sinquiver is looking into marketing urine separation systems in Chile, the firm’s wastewater manager Alistair Marsh told BNamericas.

There are several advantages to the system, according to Marsh. “First of all, you don’t need freshwater to flush urine so you save on water use and costs,” he said.

The concept involves installing a different pipeline which would channel the urine to be stored in a tank. “Urine is a huge source of nitrogen and phosphate which could then be used for the production of fertilizer,” Marsh said.

“This kind of system would be especially useful in mining operations which involve a large number of people,” said Marsh, adding: “It would save water while simultaneously providing a source of fertilizer for local farmers.”

An additional benefit is that by taking the urine out of sewage, wastewater is easier to treat.

Urine accounts for less than 1% of wastewater but it contains about 80% of the nitrogen, 50% of the phosphate and 70% of the potassium, all of which must be removed. Nutrient removal is the most difficult aspect of wastewater treatment. By separating the urine at source, studies have shown energy savings of 25% at wastewater treatment plants.

“We are looking to offer urine-separating toilets to municipalities and companies that employ a large number of people such as malls and hotels, among others,” Marsh said.

“Wastewater treatment is still very new in Latin America but there is a great need for it and that is where we come in,” said Marsh, adding: “Sinquiver is looking for the best technology and solutions to introduce into the local market.”

In addition to wastewater treatment, the company provides solutions for the wood and paper industry, and sells industrial equipment.

Source: Greta Bourke, BNamericas.com [subscription site], 19 Nov 2009

Sustainable and safe school sanitation brochure

WECF-pubication-coverDeegener, S. … [et al.] (2009). Sustainable and safe school sanitation : how to provide hygienic and affordable sanitation in areas without a functioning wastewater system : examples from Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. Utrecht, The Netherlands, WECF, Women in Europe for a Common Future. 26 p.
Download PDF file [4.40 MB]

WECF and local partners have built more than 20 Urine Diverting Dry Toilet (UDDT) Buildings for schools, as demonstration projects in different countries of the Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) region. Through these projects, WECF has shown that improved sanitation facilities can be provided at less cost than flush-toilets which need to be connected to central water supply and sewerage systems.

The UDDT systems were widely accepted by pupils and teachers. Local residents showed an interest in the (re-)use of urine and faeces as fertilizers, although acceptance was influenced by local cultural practices.

Key success factors in the use of UDDT systems were:

  • good education of pupils, teachers, care takers and cleaning staff
  • regular cleaning and maintenance of the UDDT
  • early involvement of all stakeholders (director, pupils, teachers, cleaning-staff and caretaker, different levels of administration, farmers)

This brochure is intended for school-directors and teachers, administration-employees, engineers, architects and construction workers from the field and NGOs. It includes design and maintenance guidelines for UDDT systems in schools, and photographs of the systems used in the project countries.

The brochure was realized with financial support of Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fondation Ensemble (France) and the European Commission DG Environment.

Nepal: Ecofarming – a winning complement to ecological sanitation

The use of urine diversion toilets in Nepal began about ten years ago with the first WHO efforts in Siddhipur village to promote ecological sanitation. […] Today, the number of such toilets has expanded to more than a hundred in this village, and to over a thousand toilets in Nepal as a whole.

[…] The urine collected from these villages toilets is used for fertilizing household vegetable patches. Some households are able to fully use the urine they generate, while others do not and the excess is used by others. These extra volumes are collected by enterprising farmers, [like] Jeevan [who] gave up chicken farming [about five years ago] and switched to vegetable production with eco-farming. […]. Since his change to this eco-friendly method of farming, he has completely given up the use of chemical fertilizers to boost his crops [and] has surplus to sell. He […] now gets a respectable profit of about 10-15 000 rupees per month [and] saves the 1 000 rupees or so he used to spend on firewood, and at least 7 000 he spent each year on chemical fertilizers before he began eco-farming.

[…] Jeevan saves on firewood through his household-level biogas plant, fueled by the dung from two cows. […] He uses urine drip irrigation to fertilize an acre of vegetable plots around his house.[…] His biogas plant provides lighting and fuel for cooking twice a day. Others see him as a good example and have begun to learn from him.

For more information, please contact Dr Abdul Sattar Yoosuf, Director, Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments, WHO Searo, email: yoosufa [at] searo.who.int

Source: Environmental Health Update, May 2009

See also earlier items on ecosan in Siddhipur that have appeared in Source:

  • Nepal: Pee proudly for healthy vegetables, Source Bulletin, Feb 2009
  • Nepal: Ecosan toilets improve quality of life and of river water, Source South Asia, 17 Sep 2008
  • Understanding technology types of ECOSAN latrines in Nepal, Source Bulletin, Feb 2008
  • Siddhipur community constructs eco-friendly future, Source Bulletin, Feb 2007

Cambodia: Floating Toilets for Floating Villages

Mr. Sahari Ani, Photo: ADB

Mr. Sahari Ani, Photo: ADB

Mr. Sahari Ani, the CEO of Lien Aid, a Singapore-based nongovernment organization, was interviewed by the Asian Development Bank in their “Water Champion” series. Mr Ani spoke about his organisation’s work in Cambodia, in particular on the floating toilets of the “River of life” project (see also an earlier blog post on this project). “With this, we hope to provide better sanitation options for the floating communities on the Tonle Sap [lake]. We’ve already heightened the communities’ awareness on proper sanitation. This month, we will introduce different toilet designs that they can build on their houseboats. Simultaneously, we’re providing them with a safer choice for drinking water by building a floating water treatment plant” Mr. Ani said. “We are exploring several options including the use of especially adapted septic tanks plus ecological sanitation using the urine diversion-dissecting (UDD) toilet”.

Based on the villagers’ preferences, Lien Aid “determined the size of the toilets, buckets to be used for storage of excreta, ecosan pans (2-hole or 3-hole), and other design considerations [resulting in] 3 workable designs to date”. “Our next challenges are to modify existing toilets to incorporate the UDD options, ensure availability of suitable drying material for covering feces, and keep the costs manageable”, Mr. Ani explained.

Lien Aid, which works together with the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) and local authorities, “is developing simple […] publications on methods of construction, use, and maintenance of the floating toilets”.

Floating toilets cost “between US$50-200, depending on whether the family will just upgrade their existing drop-hole toilet to accommodate the UDD technology or whether the entire toilet, including superstructure, will be constructed from scratch. The size of the toilet will also dictate the cost – toilets that can accommodate 2 tanks will obviously cost more. We’re still trying to lower the cost by using indigenous materials and encouraging local entrepreneurs to manufacture the UDD pans”.

Together with the floating toilets, “a land-based composting unit and collection system will be established to manage the semi-composted feces. We hope to promote the use of fully decomposed feces as compost”.

Lien Aid had “already set up a community center for water-sanitation related training and advocacy activities” and “will also form a water-sanitation group from among the residents and community leaders”.

“Our work is less about giving hand-outs and more about empowering people to participate and make informed choices on how they can improve their lives. Extensive consultation with local authorities, NGOs, and communities is the backbone of our work”.

See sample designs of floating UDD toilets here.

Source: ADB, Feb 2009

Kyrgyzstan: Safe and Sustainable – New Sanitation System

An international conference on Ecological Safety, held [in November 2008] in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, called attention to a dangerous sanitation issue by offering an inspiring and feasible solution.

The problem: international donors are still promoting pit latrines, says Dr. Claudia Wendland of Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), but most families can’t afford to pay for safe emptying of the pits. In humid climates like those found in Central Asia, Caucasus and Eastern Europe, the latrines can become dangerous as a result, [and] often [pollute] groundwater.

[…] According to Sascha Gabizon, executive director of WCEF, dry or low-flush urine diverting toilets, combined with natural filtration ponds to purify grey water from sinks and showers, is a much safer sanitation system that can be implemented at a cost similar to that of the latrines.

The 200 participants of the conference were invited to visit 3 demonstration projects showing how wastewater from kitchens and bathrooms was efficiently cleaned using a “soil filter,” a sealed pond in which sand and plants clean the wastewater to achieve the quality of bathing water, The participants also visited 2 different types of dry urine diverting toilets. The cost of the toilets vary between 200 and 450 Euro, including a wash facility and light, this is much cheaper than having to build a flush-toilet and connecting to a sewage system […]. The cost of the soil filter for 5 people amounts to about 950 euro, also less expensive than connecting to a sewage system.

Gabizon says the WCEF strategy is to first demonstrate the new sustainable sanitation systems “in a variety of small and large scale applications, from households to schools to entire villages.”

See also the WECF project profile of “Kyrgyzstan – Decentralised and sustainable wastewater management”

Source: Julia Levitt, Worldchanging, 21 Nov 2008