About 23% of sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to toilets, while 31% of toilets use one that is not…
About 23% of sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to toilets, while 31% of toilets use one that is not connected to a formal sanitation system. This means that more than half of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lives without proper sanitation – it is about 570 million people.
One of the problems is that existing toilets do not fit well in parts of sub-Saharan Africa because many areas lack water and there are often no proper plumbers or wastewater treatment plants.
But there are solutions – toilets that are designed differently. We have come up with some innovative patterns to overcome the two biggest challenges – excessive use of water and the fact that urine and faeces are not considered as resources.
The patterns we propose have a number of key features. Firstly, they do not use water and store and treat urine and faeces separately. They contain innovative technologies that reduce water and energy consumption ̵
1; both important steps to start building smarter, greener cities.
Each flush with a typical toilet sends about six to 16 liters of fresh water to sewage treatment plants. There is a lot of water. The average total water consumption per person in Africa is about 20 liters per day.
In addition, waste management handles a large amount of energy – about 3-15 kWh. This energy is used to provide fresh water from different sources – which dams – for the flushing process and to treat the produced wastewater. There is a lot of energy considering that we only need about 2kWh to charge a smart phone for a whole year.
The process for treating wastewater so that it can be recycled and reused is expensive because urine and faeces are mixed at the source. This makes the treatment long, expensive and powerful. It is also bad because there are valuable elements in human waste – such as nitrogen and phosphorus – which are not extracted and reused.
The cost of a more innovative toilet system can be higher than others – like pits latrins – but it really depends on the raw building materials like concrete and wood. Tanks and other parts can also be made through locally available materials – like jerrycans.
Separate waste: Our main idea of improving toilets is to see urine and stools as a resource rather than waste. Human waste nutrients – which can be used as fertilizers for growing crops – can be removed during the treatment process through better management and technology.
In order to benefit from this, urine must be separated from faeces. There are many toilets around the world that already do this. In some Asian countries, such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam, it is a traditional mechanism.
These toilets look normal but there are two different inlets that store the waste in different tanks. Here they can be treated to remove odor and increase their fertility.
It is a very efficient process that does not require complicated infrastructure and reduces the time needed for waste treatment. The system saves a lot of water and energy, which is beneficial for many local authorities already under pressure.
Waterless : For most existing toilets, water is important for flushing and emptying. But it is possible to have a waterless toilet. Again, the toilet must collect the urine separately from the drainage. Instead of rinsing, feces and urine are separated from the source by means of urinating dry toilets. These toilets are available in both seated or cool models and take advantage of human anatomy, separating urine and fecality separately. The urine is held separately and drained via a sink with a small hole near the toilet bowl or chin while feces fall through a larger hole in the back.
Improved waste : When the waste is separated and collected in tanks, microbes can be added to those who “nitrify” the waste, making it a better fertilizer – and checks for any bad odors from the toilet.
Community Support: If these toilets are used in common, they can provide major social and economic benefits to communities. While regular toilets are expensive to keep and the pitfalls can be public health risks, these systems are safe and can provide excellent fertilizer for groups who grow their own food or produce food to markets.
As African cities grow and develop, and the pressure on natural resources and infrastructure – like sewage – increases, these systems offer a sustainable and more hygienic way forward. ” width=”1″ height=”1″/>
Mooyoung Han, Professor, Seoul National University and Shervin Hashemi, Researcher, Seoul National University
This article is published from The Conversation under a Creative Commons License . Read the original article.
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