Sanitation , Tech , WASH , Water
Tags: Akvo.org, Environmental Health, IRC, Sanitation, SIWI, UNICEF, WASH, Wastewater, Water, Water and Sanitation, World Water Week
As many of you probably know, the World Water Week conference is currently taking place in Stockholm. This conference has a geographically diverse group of people from the water, sanitation, hygiene, and health fields. If you are interested in following the conference from afar here are a few ways to do it:
(1) The World Water Week Website has the programme of talks/workshops and many of the presentations and abstracts available for download
(2) Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre and Akvo.org are broadcasting a series of interviews with people at the conference called WaterCube.tv. Watercube.tv seems to be uploading new clips VERY frequently and has had interviews with some really interesting people from all over the world.
(3) Try following some tweets here or here
One of the many constant debates I have with myself is how to improve sanitation conditions for the rural and urban poor. Numerous incentive schemes and methods are in action throughout the world including grants, subsidies, use of by-laws, and education. While there may be anecdotal evidence of each methods’ merits, very few studies have actually demonstrated true sustained improvement in sanitation facilities and proper use. Wading through all of the options and trying to understand what has been done before can be a painful task for someone just jumping into this field. Thankfully the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) just released a new primer, Public Funding for Sanitation.
As this is a primer, there is not too much new information for those who have studied this issue, but this does have the types of schemes well laid out and described in a concise manner. I would recommend reading the case study boxes, which talk about a few programs I had never heard about, and the subsidy type definitions. In the end they talk about “Smart Financing” (a really nice buzz word, huh?) of sanitation which simply implies that one should use their brain before launching a massive sanitation scheme – duh. This really is a difficult issue to deal with and this primer should add to the discourse. Happy reading!
EAWAG Aquatic Research in Switzerland has been working with UN Habitat to devise low cost ways to make bio-available fertilizers from Urine. Their method involves precipitating out solid Struvite (~MgNH4PO4·6H2O) by adding Magnesium to raw urine. This method seems to be promising and requires no complex machinery or electricity.
The big challenges appear to include sourcing of a Magnesium feedstock and making it cost effective/competitive. In this pilot project UN Habitat got it from a salt manufacturing plant in India but clearly there must be other solutions found to make this a replicable decentralizable project (they had issues transporting the salt brine across the border too). Apparently, selling this product at the market value would not necessarily lead to recovered costs and eventually profit. The researchers working on this project suggest that the costs of environmental issues like waste diversion and decentralized production be taken into account but I’m not sure how that will happen…
Here is a link to an informative poster about this pilot project
how it is done