The Tiger Toilet which works with worms - like in-situ vermi-composting (field trials in India, Uganda and Burma) - Bear Valley Ventures Limited

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The Tiger Toilet which works with worms - like in-situ vermi-composting (field trials in India, Uganda and Burma) - Bear Valley Ventures Limited and Oxfam UK

Note by moderator (EvM): This post was originally in this thread as it was part of a larger research project: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/105-pr...h-africa-and-vietnam
Some initial discussions about this system (from 2013) are also available in that thread.

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Dear all,

I am posting this in this thread here, and hopefully I am not confusing you, but the research project described in this thread was very broad and multi-faceted. One of the work packages involved the Tiger Toilet. Walter Gibson said: "Tiger is about novel on-site sanitation for the poor, particularly in urban areas."

The research and development on the "Tiger Toilet" which works with worms - like in-situ vermi-composting - was funded as part of this grant by BMGF and has now received follow-up funding from a USAID-DIV grant (no more funding for it from the BMGF at the moment). Please see here for more information:

Source: divatusaid.tumblr.com/post/68979282964/t...-will-test-the-tiger

Date: 4 December 2013



I copy the text of the announcement below:

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The Tiger Roars: New DIV Grantee will Test the “Tiger Toilet” that uses Worms for Good!

DIV is delighted to announce a new Stage 1 award of over $170,000 to Bear Valley Ventures Ltd to conduct a field trial of the Tiger Toilet in India, Uganda, and Burma. The Tiger Toilet is a latrine system that has the potential to be an affordable, compact, and superior alternative to pit latrines and septic tanks. It harnesses the capabilities of composting worms such as the Tiger Worm (Eisenia fetida), to digest the solids within the system, making it very compact and particularly suitable to high density urban environments.

The project aims to address the global challenge of providing access to adequate sanitation; worldwide, over 4 billion people currently use latrines that can be unpleasant and unhygienic or lack sanitation provisions entirely. Sewered systems will never be a reality for many around the world; therefore an on-site (i.e. a system that does not require piping the waste off-site for treatment) option is needed. Presently the best on-site option is a septic tank, which is often financially out of reach.

Walter Gibson, Director of Bear Valley Ventures, adds that “Vast numbers of people in the world have to put up with inadequate sanitation every day of their lives. It’s imperative that we develop better, more affordable solutions that address their needs and aspirations for a decent toilet. We believe the Tiger Toilet represents one such option. We are very grateful to USAID for this support which allows us to test its potential.”

The Tiger Toilet is linked to a normal pour flush system, so the user experience is therefore the same as using a septic tank or a pour flush latrine. The waste then enters a tank which contains the worms and a drainage layer. The solids are trapped at the top of the system where the worms consume it, and the liquid is filtered through the drainage layer. Extensive laboratory scale trials found that the worms reduce the solids in the system by above 80%, and the effluent quality is higher than that from a septic tank. An initial prototype has been running at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, UK for over a year.

USAID’s Stage 1 investment will support a six-month trial of this Tiger Toilet system in three countries: India, Uganda, and Myanmar. This ambitious pilot will not only test the technology in three different geographic locations, but also in three different contexts: rural communities, peri-urban areas, and a displaced persons camp. It will be the first trial of the Tiger Toilet with real households. USAID’s investment will allow our partners to install Tiger Toilets in 10 households ( around 50-100 people) in each country.. Systems will be monitored over six months to test performance and user acceptance. Costs will be compared to those of existing systems and an initial exploration of different routes to scale will be undertaken. Once a market and route to scale has been identified it is hoped that the Tiger Toilet will become a better form of sanitation for low income families around the world. The aim is to develop the Tiger Toilet at a price below that of the septic tank and in line with that of a latrine: it is hoped that it will become a leap frog technology as it is expected to offer lower maintenance and better performance.

Contributing partners to this project include Oxfam, Water for People, and PriMove India. The initial development of the Tiger Toilet was funded through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). LSHTM is also supporting the current project by assisting BVV with the user evaluation of the system, which will assess users’ satisfaction with the Tiger System as well as their interest in purchasing the system.

The Bear Valley team is very excited to be trialling this technology with real users in places where it can make a real difference.

About Bear Valley Ventures

Bear Valley Ventures was founded in 2007 to catalyse the development of market-led, technology-based innovation in hygiene and sanitation for base of the pyramid consumers. We help create innovative ideas and turn them into sustainable ventures to bring their benefits to millions of people around the world.

About USAID Development Innovation Ventures

USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) is an investment platform that finds, tests, and scales new solutions to development challenges around the world. Through a year-round open competition, DIV seeks ideas that demonstrate cost-effectiveness relative to traditional approaches, that gather rigorous evidence of their intervention’s impacts, and that have the potential to scale through the public or private sector without long-term DIV support.

Contact:

Claire Furlong, Bear Valley Ventures Ltd

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Claire: could you please share with us some photos of your prototype of the Tiger Toilet that you ran in Wales? I looked on your website ( www.bearvalleyventures.com/ ) but couldn't find any photos.

Regards,
Elisabeth

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Edit on 10 March 2016:

More details about this grant:
Field evaluation of an affordable, effective on-site sanitation system (Uganda, Myanmar, India)

Time period: 01.09.2013 to 01.06.2015
Size: USD 170,000

This USAID/DIV Stage 1 support will enable Bear Valley Ventures Ltd. to address the challenge of providing high‐quality, sustainable and affordable on‐site sanitation for low‐income households who either lack sanitation or who currently use a pit latrine. The proposed solution is based on biofilter technology. It uses a type of earthworm (the ‘Tiger Worm’, E.fetida) to digest fecal solids, combined with a filtration layer to treat the liquid effluent which then infiltrates safely into the soil. The biofilter is linked to a low‐volume, pour-flush toilet. The research project involves fabrication, installation, use and monitoring of 30 prototype on-site sanitation systems in three different countries: Uganda, Myanmar, and India.

Links:
www.usaid.gov/div/portfolio
www.usaid.gov/div/portfolio/bvv-tiger

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Re: On-site sanitation based on bio-additives and pit design (LSTH, UK and Tanzania, South Africa and Vietnam)

Just wondering if the tiger toilet is still under active development? Were there any reports produced on this? Were results produced from the field trial?

cheers
Dean

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Re: On-site sanitation based on bio-additives and pit design (LSTH, UK and Tanzania, South Africa and Vietnam)

I also find great interest in this project.

I found their blog, its lastly updated in september 2015, and they share some knowledge there!

www.bearvalleyventures.com/apps/blog
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Re: The Tiger Toilet which works with worms - like in-situ vermi-composting (field trials in India, Uganda and Burma) - Bear Valley Ventures Limited, UK

I stumbled across another piece of information about the Tiger Toilet recently in the Journal of Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Development (sadly, the authors didn't pay to make it open access, so it's behind a paywall):

washdev.iwaponline.com/content/5/4/608?etoc

Only the abstract is available for free.

The development of an onsite sanitation system based on vermifiltration: the ‘Tiger Toilet’

C. Furlong, W. T. Gibson, M. R. Templeton, M. Taillade, F. Kassam, G. Crabb, R. Goodsell, J. McQuilkin, A. Oak, G. Thakar, M. Kodgire, R. Patankar

Published December 2015, 5 (4) 608-613; DOI: 10.2166/washdev.2015.167

Abstract

This paper describes the development of a novel onsite sanitation system based on vermifiltration, the ‘Tiger Toilet’. Initial laboratory experiments demonstrated that feed distribution was not required, a worm density of 2 kg/m2 could be used, worms preferred wetter environments, and system configuration did not affect effluent quality. Installing the first prototype in the UK proved that the process functioned when scaled, i.e., chemical oxygen demand and thermotolerant coliform reduction were found to be comparable with the laboratory results. Ten prototypes were then tested by households in rural India; all were working well after six months. The vermifilters were processing the amount of faeces entering the system on a daily basis, so faeces was not accumulating. It was estimated that they would require emptying after approximately five years, based on the depth of the vermicompost generated. With further development, it is believed that the Tiger Toilet has the potential to become a superior form of onsite sanitation, when compared with traditional onsite sanitation technologies.

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Re: The Tiger Toilet which works with worms - like in-situ vermi-composting (field trials in India, Uganda and Burma) - Bear Valley Ventures Limited, UK

Hi Elisabeth,
I understand they paid a New Zealander (Colin Bell, who has been building vermicomposting digesters for well over 10 years) handsomely for his design input. There is nothing "novel" about the system, but what I was hoping for was some hard data on its performance in terms of effluent quality.

I read somewhere that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation are paying for reports from grant-funded projects to be made public... should the secretariat look into this?

cheers
Dean

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Re: The Tiger Toilet which works with worms - like in-situ vermi-composting (field trials in India, Uganda and Burma) - Bear Valley Ventures Limited, UK

I would also be interested in seeing "hard data on its performance in terms of effluent quality", as you put it. Perhaps there is more data in the paper that I mentioned above? We could ask the authors if they can make the pdf file of the paper available on a one-by-one basis (copyright would dictate that they're not allowed to post it on the forum).
Maybe they'd also be willing to answer detailed questions here on the forum if we list the question and then e-mail the lead author and alert them to this post?

With regards to the BMGF open access policy, you're in principle right. Their open access policy was announced here on the forum:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/139-gr...-its-funded-research

I recently asked them a question about this and they told me that they have this clause in their grant agreements now:

PUBLICATION IN PEER-REVIEWED JOURNALS
If You seek publication of Funded Developments in a peer-reviewed journal, such publication shall be under “open access” terms and conditions consistent with the Foundation’s Open Access Policy available at: www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Gene...n/Open-Access-Policy , which may be modified from time to time.


However, there are three things to consider:
  • The clause only talks about "if you seek publication in a peer-reviewed journal", not "you shall see publication in a peer reviewed journal". So my interpretation is that they strongly encourage it but do not force grantees to publish stuff.
  • One of my roles here on the forum is to help grantees disseminate information about their grants - but it is a voluntary activity on behalf of the grantees. Many of them share freely, but a few others not for various reasons.
  • For this particular project, as far as I can see, the funding by BMGF already stopped a couple of years ago and since then it's been funded by other sources (e.g. since Dec 2013 by that USAID grant which was mentioned above). So they would anyway not be "bound" by the BMGF open access policy.
So I think our best bet is to get in touch with the authors of that paper, via forum post(s) and direct e-mails. Let's keep digging! :-)

Oh and by the way, the Tiger Toilet also came up in this BMGF grant in Bangladesh:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/167-ma...tion-bangladesh#9722

Perhaps one could dig deeper in that thread, too.
Actually, now I am a bit confused: Is the Tiger Toilet the same as the Biofil toilet that we discussed here, just under a different name:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/205-to...a-senegal-bangladesh
?

Regards,
Elisabeth


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Edit on 5 Feb 2016:

A post that was made in this thread by Dean answered my question as follows:

The tiger toilet and biofil digester use the same process, only construction methods are different.

Some papers on the tiger toilet:
Processing of human faeces by wet vermifiltration for improved on-site sanitation
The development of an onsite sanitation system based on vermifiltration: the ‘tiger toilet’
The Tiger Toilet: From Concept to Reality
Processing of human faeces by wet vermifiltration for improved on-site sanitation

Dean's post has now been moved to here as it also started a new topic: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/205-to...-other-options#16753

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Re: The Tiger Toilet which works with worms - like in-situ vermi-composting (field trials in India, Uganda and Burma) - Bear Valley Ventures Limited, UK

Thanks Elisabeth for this post. It appears is a game changer especially in places where land is limited for onsite sanitation systems. Perhaps we will track how the said trials progress in the said Burma and Uganda. Not sure though whether tiger worms are found everywhere or they need to be introduced in some circumstance calling for legalized approvals!

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Re: The Tiger Toilet which works with worms - like in-situ vermi-composting (field trials in India, Uganda and Burma) - Bear Valley Ventures Limited, UK


Dean Satchell, M For. Sc.
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