Tuesday 31 July 2012

Erdos: “World's biggest eco-toilet scheme fails”

“The dry toilets in Inner Mongolia's Daxing eco-community have been quietly replaced after three years of bad smells, health problems and maggots.” Oops! See the full entry in the Guardian Environment Network (30 July 2012).

Monday 30 July 2012

Fossas alternas

IRC has on its website a good photo-sequence on how to build a fossa alterna: “This photo story shows you how to construct a fossa alterna, how to empty it and how to process the compost. After 12−18 months of composting it is safe to empty a fossa alterna toilet and use the compost as fertilizer for your garden soil”. Fossas alternas? Read Peter Morgan’s Toilets That Make Compost Low-cost, sanitary toilets that produce valuable compost for crops in an African context.

Friday 27 July 2012

Rural sanitation

What Does It Take to Scale Up Rural Sanitation? by Eduardo Perez and published earlier this month by the Water and Sanitation Program is an important document because, as the report’s webpage says, “Today, 2.5 billion people live without access to improved sanitation. … Of those without access to sanitation, 75 percent live in rural areas [emphasis added].” – so there’s no escaping the importance of rural sanitation. The technologies for rural sanitation are well understood – well, most of them anyway. The report notes that “Scaling Up Rural Sanitation is designed as an evidence-based learning project with an explicit goal to test and document new approaches, reflect on challenges, and develop knowledge products to share lessons learned. Testing innovative approaches implies taking risks and learning from successes and failures.”

Yet, and it’s a big yet, there’s no mention of Arborloos – clearly a major omission!

Thursday 26 July 2012

The 2011 Pumphandle Lecture

Have a look at the John Snow Society’s 2011 Pumphandle Lecture Epidemiology for the Bottom Billion – where there’s not even a pump handle to remove! by Hans Rosling who’s a professor at the Karolinska Institute and also chairman of the Gapminder Foundation. An excellent lecture. Check out the Gapminder videos − you’ll find some pretty stunning ones!

Who’s John Snow? Find out here.

Global WatSan costs

WHO published in May this year Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage by Dr Guy Hutton. Here’s the Overview from the WHO webpage for the report:

This report updates previous economic analyses conducted by the World Health Organization, using new WSS coverage rates, costs of services, income levels and health indicators. Benefit-cost ratios (BCR) and costs are estimated to meet the MDG drinking-water and sanitation target and to attain universal access of basic services. Rural and urban areas are analysed as separate targets. The analysis utilises WSS coverage definitions of the JMP (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation).

The bottom line is: The benefit-cost ratio for the necessary interventions varies from 2.8 in the SSA region to 8.0 in E. Asia. The global economic return on sanitation spending is US$ 5.5 per US dollar invested.

A good, if somewhat exhausting, read! Read the Executive Summary at least.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Erdos Eco-Town Project

I’ve just received in today’s post The Challenges of Urban Ecological Sanitation Lessons from the Erdos Eco-Town Project, China, written by Arno Rosemarin, Jennifer McConville, Amparo Flores, Zhu Qiang, and published in May this year by Practical Action Publishing. The publisher’s blurb says that this book “highlights the experience of implementing the Erdos Eco-Town Project in Inner Mongolia, China. This remains the largest urban project of urine-diversion dry toilets in the world, serving a population of approximately 3000 people in 4–5 storey apartment buildings. The multi-storey collection system also links to on-site grey water treatment, a composting centre, underground urine tanks, and the agricultural reuse of nutrients. The Challenges of Urban Ecological Sanitation describes the technical design, daily operation and maintenance, costs and benefits compared to conventional systems [but not to simplified sewerage], as well as the challenges in achieving acceptability with users.”

So far I’ve only read Chapter 5 “Social acceptance” and there’s much mention of odour, but no mention of ‘dust’. Flushing the ‘ecoloo’ with sawdust creates a lot of actual dust – and this flushing could only be done while the user was still sitting on it: not a problem for men as (I suppose) they just brushed the dust off, but a major discomfort for women who found their external genitalia covered in dust. Ghastly!

Anyway I’ll be taking the book off in a couple of weeks as unmissable ‘holiday’ reading…