Turn­ing Hu­man Waste into Fer­til­izer: An African So­lu­tion

Southern Innovator - - INOVATION -

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

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