Saturday, 31 October 2009

EcoSan and the phosphorus crisis

I’ve never thought much about the argument that EcoSan is a good sanitation solution in developing countries because of the impending phosphorus crisis (see here and blog of 20 March 2008). It’s true that the cost of DAP (di-ammonium phosphate) reached an all-time high of USD 1200 per tonne in 2008, but prices are falling back to their pre-peak levels of around USD 320 per t, as shown in the figure below (from here; details also here − the World Bank’s Commodity Price Data for January 2007 − September 2009):

The World Bank projects DAP costs of USD 300 per t in 2010, rising to USD 360 in 2015 and USD 400 in 2020 (details here).

So perhaps all is not as bleak as the EcoSanologists would have us believe. Of course, industrialized countries should use less P than they do at present, but let’s not continue the argument that poor people in developing countries should have expensive EcoSan toilets because of this P crisis.

PS (again): can we please have details, including costs, on the Erdos EcoTown project?

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

CLTS: A word of caution

In the October issue of the Water and Sanitation Program’s excellent Access Newsletter there’s a salutary piece on ‘Moving Beyond Open Defecation Free Sanitation in Pakistan’. According to this report:

Pakistan has taken an important step towards improved sanitation through a major sector assessment and setting up of a core group that seeks to move communities beyond open defecation free (ODF) status. The Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach has already enabled more than 1,500 villages in Pakistan to achieve ODF status and is expected to reach 15,000 villages by June 2011. This will mean that a third of the rural population of Pakistan would be covered. To consolidate this progress and scale up learning, a Core Group was formed in August 2008 to advise the government in policy refinement and implementation of its nation-wide sanitation policy. ... The group commissioned an assessment of CLTS pilots in nine villages in the country. The evidence gathered revealed that CLTS had the potential to motivate communities to achieve ODF status.

So far so good − but then it goes on to say:

However, it did not create demand for “improved sanitation,” which, according to the Joint Monitoring Program, implies use of sanitation facilities “that ensure hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact. The surveyed communities were found using unimproved and unhygienic latrines without taking any substantial effort to upgrade or replace damaged latrines due to limited knowledge of different latrine options available at the household level.

So now we know what many of us had long suspected: the whole CLTS ‘process’ needs to be upgraded so as to ensure people get at least ‘improved’ sanitation. Actually what people need is ‘good’ sanitation and ‘improved’ does not necessarily mean ‘good’ (after all, ‘improved’ sanitation includes a “pit latrine with slab” − see here − and we’ve all seen hundreds of these that are far from satisfactory).

Friday, 2 October 2009

Erdos EcoTown − again

I’ve looked at the various EcoSan websites (such as Ecosanres, GTZ and WASTE) and there’s no mention of the abandonment of the complex EcoSan system in Erdos (see blog of 6 June), and nothing on the SIDA website or the website of the Swedish Embassy in Beijing either. No surprise, I suppose, but disappointing nonetheless.

There’s a new report on the Ecosanres site: Comparing Sanitation Systems Using Sustainability Criteria. No mention at all of Erdos! Even so, worth a quick look − read the Conclusions and make up your own mind!