Turning Human Waste into Fertilizer: An African Solution
According to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, some 11 million South Africans have received access to basic sanitation services since 1994, but 13.3 million still lacked basic sanitation services by 2008.
The Water Research Commission (WRC) believes that there is a crisis with South Africa’s toilet pit latrines, which are quickly filling up past their original design capacity. WRC’S solution is to turn the human faeces or faecal sludge deposited in pit latrines into fertilizer for farming and agriculture. The Water Research Commission is advocating using the fertilizer either for fruit trees or for trees that will be turned into income sources such as paper and fuel.
The WRC project and series of experiments are called “What happens when pit latrines get full?”
“Only one third of municipalities have a budget to maintain onsite sanitation,” WRC researcher and scientist David Still told Inter Press Service (IPS). “If pits fill up, all the hard work that was done to address the sanitation backlog will be wasted. Why not use faecal sludge to address the growing problem of food insecurity by planting fruit trees? Or use the sludge to cultivate trees for fuel or paper production?” – (July 2012)
An African “long-drop” toilet. • wrc.org.za • csir.co.za • water.worldbank.org/shw-resourceguide/infrastructure/menu-technical-options/pit-latrines