PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

  • Nevenka
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PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

Hi to everyone,

I am writing here to open my PhD project to feedback/discussions/advice.

The EcoSan concept is not diffused in Italy and, to my knowledge, there is almost no research going on. Meanwhile I believe that Italy, suffering from water scarcity (south and islands), from rural depopulation, and having several communities not connected to central sewers, represents a great opportunity for the development of ecological sanitation.

My research goal is the development of ecological/sustainable sanitation system models/prototypes appropriate for small communities in the Italian context, taking into consideration the Italian geography, weather, regulations, present sanitation conditions, environmental awareness, and social traditions and acceptance. More precisely, I want to select some Italian case studies (one single isolated house, a group of houses, a small neighbourhood, a small rural municipality), analyse them along all the above-mentioned aspects, and develop a multi-criteria evaluation model that allows, for each case study, to compare different ecological sanitation systems and to select the most appropriate.

Expected results:
  • Start to introduce ecological sanitation and sustainable development concepts in the Italian research.
  • Understanding of the Italian sanitation situation and the social acceptance of EcoSan technologies.
  • Understanding of the barriers to ecological sanitation diffusion in Italy.
  • Definition of a multi-criteria framework and of the information collection tools (such as questionnaires) optimized for the Italian context.
  • Comparison of different sanitation systems for some case studies of different population size.
I would really love to get feedback/advice from these forum users; also because, being this topic not common in Italian Universities, I have no reference researcher here, but still I really believe in the EcoSan approach and therefore I am willing to proceed in this research direction.

Thank you in advance and special thanks to the SuSanA forum developers who made all these networking and discussions possible!

A smile
Nevenka Martinello
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  • kifle1adama
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Re: PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

Hi it nice
My name is Kifle Misganaw from ROSSAdama UDDT you can make your research in Adama since and technology university in Ethiopia.you can see
UDDT adama
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/34-uri...-waste-as-fertilizer

it open for reserchers and you can contact me kiflems@ yahoo.com
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  • Nevenka
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Re: PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

Thank you Kifle Misganaw, I read about the amazing project in Adama!!! However, the focus of my study is on defining EcoSan systems appropriate for the Italian context, which is quite different in many aspects from Ethiopia.
Thank you anyway and I hope one day I will be able to come ti visit this project.

Best regards
Nevenka
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  • Nevenka
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Re: PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

Dear all,

For my Phd project (described in my previous post), I am developing a Multi-criteria analysis framework for sustainable sanitations appropriate for small communities in the Italian context.
I am now defining the alternatives of sustainable sanitation systems to be included in the framework. I found a lot of material about sanitation for developing countries (such as the Eawag-Sandec Compendium of Sanitation Systems) and demonstrative cases applied to the developed world (such as the SuSanA case studies).

From the literature review I conducted, I am not able to find a compendium that gathers sustainable and/or ecological sanitation systems appropriate for the "developed" world.
To your knowledge, does such a work exist?

Thank you in advance
All the best,
Nevenka
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  • joeturner
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Re: PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

Hi Nevenka,

I don't think such a scholarly compendium exists for "developed world" ecosan systems. There are a range of enthusiasts producing materials about composting toilets, but these rarely contain much that could be described as a "Multi-criteria analysis framework".

Have you tried looking at the Dry Toilet Association of Finland? You might find some researchers from Europe and North America featured in their recent conference www.huussi.net/en/
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  • Nevenka
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Re: PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

Thank you very much!

I am going to check this Finnish Association.

Have a nice day
Nevenka
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  • muench
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Re: PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

Dear Nevenka,

I am a bit confused regarding what you're looking for. You said:
"sustainable and/or ecological sanitation systems" *

Joe replied regarding composting toilets, but that's just one of many options (as mentioned in the Eawag-Sandec compendium). Or are you specifically limiting your search to those?

Many of the technologies mentioned in the Eawag-Sandec Compendium are equally applicable to "rich country" contexts (however, they are not focussed on sustainable or ecosan systems in particular); similarly with the SuSanA case studies , they deal with examples of sustainable sanitation systems from many countries (mostly developing countries but also some non-developing countries).

Or are you referring more to cold climates (e.g. allowing the option of freezing toilets, see elsewhere on the forum about those by putting "freezing" in the search field)? Or to countries where effluent quality standards are really high and where highly-qualified maintenance staff is available and cost is not a major consideration (e.g. allowing options for household membrane bioreactor type systems?).

It's pretty important to know exactly what you're looking for and why.

The distinction into "technologies for developing countries versus developed countries" may not work so well anyhow, because some countries combine both worlds in one, e.g. South Africa I would classify as both a developing country and a developed country in one; same for India and Mexico, isn't it? Even e.g. Kenya or Zambia... Therefore if anything doesn't it make more sense to distinguish either by urban/rural or by climate or by ability to pay and expectation regarding service and effluent quality?

Just some thoughts.

Regards,
Elisabeth

* As you're a PhD student who's diving into this topic deeply, please take a look at previous discussions where we pondered definitions for sustainable sanitation versus definitions for ecosan (not the same thing; check out also the two Wikipedia pages on these two terms): forum.susana.org/forum/categories/166-de...naries-mapping-tools

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum via SEI project ( www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • Nevenka
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Re: PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

Dear Elisabeth von Münch,

thank you very much for your reply. You made me think a lot!

When I wrote my Ph.D. proposal, I was focused on ecological sanitation since I was interested in enhancing the Italian isolated communities' self-sufficiency. After some interviews to communities members, I realized that often communities are not interested in resource recovery (and maybe sometimes it is not even the optimal choice), and, therefore, I decided to include sustainable sanitation systems in the MCA framework. Since they are not systems included one in the other, I refer to them as "sustainable or ecological sanitation systems".

For what concerns the distinction into "technologies for developing countries versus developed countries", I also think that many solutions proposed for the developing countries perfectly fit also in the "rich countries", and, therefore, I dug into the SuSanA resources and case studies to extract all the alternatives that I believe appropriate for the Italian context. I was just wondering if a collection specifically thought for sustainable sanitation for the developed countries has already been done.

Once I concluded the definition of the spectrum of appropriate sanitation trains, I will investigate each specific case study and, based on it, compare the sanitation systems (after having screened out the technically unfeasible alternatives, thanks to a set of technical criteria) by means of several sustainability criteria (I attached to this post the scheme of the criteria and indicators I selected).

Thank you again,
a smile and al the best,
Nevenka

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  • joeturner
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Re: PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

Seems to me that you are asking for systems which are appropriate in the EU and in Italy in particular, Nevenka.

Of course, that's a big question: but there is also a difference between things which are "technically possible" and those which are easy to do in the EU due to (for example) EU Directive 86/278, which is about the use of human faecal wastes in agriculture.
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  • Nevenka
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Re: PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

Dear Joeturner,

yes, I am looking for systems which are appropriate (what you defined as technically possible) in the EU and in Italy in particular. I know that the reuse of urine and faeces in EU is not allowed, and here in Italy we are still very far from accepting this concept. Anyway, I want to bring the attention of the Italian sanitation research on this topic, and this is the first reason I decided to do this Ph.D. even if its approach definitely differs from my Engineering Department way of thinking to sanitation and human development in general.

All the best,
Nevenka
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  • joeturner
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Re: PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

Well, that's not correct. According to the EU Regulation, reuse of treated faeces and urine is allowed, and in some countries forms of small scale ecosan are tolerated - Elisabeth has an ecosan system in her garden at home in Germany. In other countries, it is totally not permitted.
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  • Nevenka
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Re: PhD project – Resource-oriented systems for small Italian communities

Thank you, you are right. I didn't study the EU regulation yet, I only analysed the Italian one, and here, unfortunately, it is not permitted. Thank you!
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