Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation?
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UDDT stands for urine diversion dehydration toilet. UD stands for urine diversion.
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TOPIC: Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation?

Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation? 10 Nov 2011 18:01 #580

  • ennoschroeder
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Dear all,
some time ago (about one month) we had an interesting discussion around the issue of marketing human excreta on the EcoSanRes Forum.
Even though this will be quite a long post, I decided to transfer some issues of that discussion to make it accessible to a broader audience:

The whole discussion was triggered by a study I did about the marketing of human excreta as fertiliser. The idea here, was basically to develop an economically sustainable logistics systems for separated human excreta which are generated in Urine-Diversion-Dehydration-Toilets (UDDTs) or similar devices, in slum areas of the capital of Uganda, Kampala.
In order to finance the logistics, the generated human excreta should be marketed as fertiliser and used in agricultural areas around the city. Various interviews have been conducted with stakeholders, data was collected and literature was reviewed in order to design the logistics systems. After drafting them, cost calculations were carried out in order to test their economical feasibility.

To give you a rough idea about the outcomes I compiled a few results and key recommendations here:
- The logistics of human excreta can be feasible and even profitable.
- The scale of the systems modelled ranged between 67,000 and 430,000 people covered (600,000 to 3,870,000 litres of urine; 140,000 and 903,000 kg of faeces)
- The calculations showed that, the larger the systems are designed, the higher is the profitability
- The profitability of the systems can be influenced significantly by a variety of factors. Among them transport distance, project lifetime and nutrient/fuel prices showed the largest effects.
- The distance between slum and agricultural area should be minimised.
- High socio-cultural barriers towards handling and using human excreta as fertiliser exist.
- Sensitisation is capable to change people's perceptions and behaviours considerably. It has to be applied to prepare and accompany the process of implementation. (All stakeholders involved)
- The assistance of economical tools like the incentives applied in this study are likely helping to change people's perceptions and behaviours sustainably and present an option to increase the implementation efficiency of the proposed systems. (Residents)
- A combination of household-, shared landlord- and public units has to be implemented to achieve maximum sanitation coverage.
- If not being competitive in terms of nutrient content and plant availability, handling/managing efforts/costs and product price, a fertiliser will not be purchased and used by farmers.
- The best service regarding the logistics of human excreta can be provided by a private company that is established for that type of business. Alternatively an existing company could enlarge its portfolio by investing in infrastructure especially designated for the logistics of human excreta.
- As large scale consumer of urine in its liquid state flower farmers have been investigated. Organic producers and medium scale farmers would also utilise certain amounts of urine in its liquid state.
- Operating a supply chain for urine as proposed in this study poses considerable risks (e.g. bad road conditions, truck breakdowns and accidents).
- The best option for marketing dried and sanitised faeces is by selling them upon collection. Hence no vulnerable and cost intensive supply chain has to be applied. Further tests regarding the practicability of the sanitisation and pick up method are necessary.

(If interested in the details, the study can be downloaded here: www.susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbk...mp;type=2&id=752)


Now, different people reacted to that announcement. Here is a selection of the replies:

1. Clouet Benjamin:

Thanks for sharing!
My question might be stupid as I never worked on slums before ... but from our experience in Cambodia, and some informal studies we did on the collection-treatment and reuse of sludge from pit latrines (more complicated to collect and far less nutrient recovery than you system) we realised that for the sustainibility of the system the price of collection was far more important than the potencial sales of the compost.
Secondly, the time that a proper downstream market for compost is created, branded and solid, how do you make live the collecting company. On the other hand if you base your income on collection the system can start to live meanwhile and the reuse would be extra later.

So here are my questions
Would that sound crazy to make pay someone from a slum to empty his toilet, even small amount?
What is the distance from small farmers to the slum, can collection system be done by just a small scale famer with a bicycle/moto and a kart of 200l ? I mean very decentralised system. What always put problems of expenses / managment is big trucks no?
Could there be any service provided when collection to justify the price, cleaning of the toilet / a bag of vegetables against the jerrycan of urine etc ...?

Again I am neither familiar with slums nor Uganda so don t be offened if all that sounds stupid, it´s more personal curiosity. I´m just always surprised that most project on human compost bases the financial plan on end product rather than the collection service.


2. Kent Madin:
Ben, IMHO you hit on a very important point. It's silly to try and start from the notion that you will convince people that shit=gold. on the other hand, a scheme which gets the excreta out of their backyard or out of the open trench running down the street is a self evident benefit.

Also I am always struck by this logic of treating human SOLID waste as if it were so incredibly valuable. There is nothing magical about human solid waste that makes it a superior component of compost for fertilizer. Quite the contrary, it is a fundamental problem to render it pathogen free. Urine, yes, of course. But take the example of Mongolia where people have little use for fertilizer (one interesting exception is a garlic farmer in Mongolia who likes the idea of composted human waste because it doesn't contain weed seeds that livestock compost has). Mongolians don't need fertilizer so trying to sell composted waste is ridiculous. They just want it and the flies and smell and contamination gone. So it makes more sense to burn the semi-dried waste while focusing on collecting the more valuable urine and looking for ways to make urine's use more widely acceptable. Why not just focus on ways to collect and sterilize human sold waste? If people understand, for instance, that being dilligent about UD toilet use so that solid waste is fully or partially dessicated (and volume lowered) then it is conceivable that you could charge so amount to remove that waste and burn it looking at the issue of one of purely public health.


3. Enno Schroeder (me):
Regarding your remark about the importance of the price of collection or the potential sales for the overall sustainabilty I have to say, that my idea was to market the excreta fertiliser in order to create an income in order to 1) cover the logistics, 2) create profit for a private company taking care of the logistics and 3) cover incentives paid out to residents of informal settlements to motivate them to take part in the sanitation system by delivering their excreta (in properly sealed containers) to a collection point. So, I tried to come up with a system with sustainability along te whole sanitation chain.

To answer your questions:
Would that sound crazy to make pay someone from a slum to empty his toilet, even small amount?
>This is a tough question. Because on the one hand the emptying can’t and shouldn’t be for free, since someone would have to take care of it (like a private company or the local authority) and this consumes money. Otherwise there would be no sustainability in place and the service could not be provided. But one the other hand I think there is little willingness to pay for those services, because of alternative ways of emptying the pit even if this causes major health risks. So, what to do instead? And there we are again with this incentive driven collection scheme, where people receive money for the excreta they deliver to collection points (cf. above)...

What is the distance from small farmers to the slum, can collection system be done by just a small scale famer with a bicycle/moto and a kart of 200l ? I mean very decentralised system. What always put problems of expenses / managment is big trucks no?
>Based on my calculations the logistics system has to be large scale. We have to think big regarding the system as economies of scale are also valid here. The problem about the whole issue of fertilising with human excreta is, that the fertilising value to weight ratio is considerably bad. So distances should always be minimised. The same is applicable for the times a truck commutes between source and destination to do the transport (example: a pick up truck would need to go 10 to 20 times whereas a 10000 l tank truck only needs to go one time).

Could there be any service provided when collection to justify the price, cleaning of the toilet / a bag of vegetables against the jerrycan of urine etc... ?
>I think this is already answered with the incentives isn’t it? Otherwise when we talk about public units the user fee could be used for paying the operator and this one also takes care of the cleaning. I hope this clarifies it a bit. Don’t hesitate to ask more!


Carol McCreary:

Hi,
Enno's work has been an eye-opener for me because of the way he makes clear the entire value chain in excreta treatment and reuse and the fact that things fall apart when scrupulous attention is not paid to every aspect. And Ben's and Kent's contribution to the discussion are superb.

I'm connected with the Sustainable P Initiative at Arizona State University, where we're looking at all the issues of P recapture, recovery and reuse in a whole spectrum of systems from wastewater treatment to decentralized UDDTs.

Yes, indeed it's hard to make the case that SHIT=GOLD. As Kent says, there are situations when it's okay to say just throw it out, just dispose of it safely. But this also focuses attention on urine. Ultimately food security issues - as well as the immediate food safety ones that people here in the US pay huge attention to - bring us to dealing with voluminous urine and the logistics challenges that Enno has underlined.

I really appreciate this discussion.



So, that was kind of the end of that discussion there.
Feel free to continue it here - let's see where this leads us to!

Have a nice evening,
Best regards,
Enno
Enno Schroeder
Freelance consultant
Hamburg, Germany
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Last Edit: 10 Nov 2011 18:14 by ennoschroeder.
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Re: Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation? 07 Dec 2011 21:55 #727

  • tmsinnovation
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Hi Enno,

What kind of market exists for the end product, i.e. human excreta?
How is it being marketed?
Can sanitised human excreta simply be mixed with regular compost and marketed as compost?
I mean if it is safe, then do you have to boldly stipulate that "this bag of compost contains 35% sanitised human excreta"?

What are your thoughts in this regard?
Rgds
Trevor
Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA)
Secretariat
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Re: Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation? 14 Dec 2011 19:55 #754

  • ennoschroeder
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Hi Trevor,
there is no such official market as far as I know.
But not only due to the fact that human exreta fertiliser would not be purchased - the reason is that a proper product (dry, pathogen free, odourless, nutrient rich) with proper labelling and marketing has just not yet been invented/produced. Hence, we have to bring in business at this point in order to come up with viable solutions (thorough market research, risk assessment, invention). Especially for landlocked countries with poor phosphate resources this is a good opportunity to work on the nutrition- and the sanitation problem, earn money and become less dependent from the world markets (crops, fuel and fertiliser).

Regarding an in-official market I know that eg. in Kampala most of the dried sludge produced by the waste water treatment plant is picked up by farmers or horticulturists and used as fertiliser... Without being properly labelled and marketed. And also without letting the consumers know

What do others think?

Best,
Enno
Enno Schroeder
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Last Edit: 14 Dec 2011 20:00 by ennoschroeder.
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Re: Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation? 26 Sep 2012 08:49 #2314

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Dear all,

I currently support a very small project in the Netherlands, which collects knowledge on how to market faeces and market waste as fertilizer in West/East Africa. In this regard I came by the forum and this discussion. Now I read that there is no market or any labels. But the last reply was from 2011, so I was hoping for news in this matter.

-Does anybody know of a label under construction?
-Or in best case does anybody know a fertilizer product from faeces which is marketed already and could be researched online?

Clues and recommodations are very welcome. kind regards,

Dominic

Re: Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation? 26 Sep 2012 09:16 #2315

  • Marijn Zandee
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Dear Dominic,

To the best of my knowledge there are no labels as yet.

Some things that come to mind as interesting for you:

Some positive news is that IFOAM (on of the leading organic agriculture platforms) is starting to relax its regulations with regard to himan excreta somewhat. there is a message about this somewhere on this forum.

You could look at the ork that SOIL foundation did in Haiti, I think they are one of the few organizations I know off successfully marketing composted human feces.

Lastely, there are the case studies about CREPA project in Burkina Faso.


regards

Marijn Zandee
Marijn Zandee
Technical Advisor
Nepal Biogas Promotion Association (NBPA)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Kathmandu, Nepal

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Re: Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation? 01 Oct 2012 13:09 #2360

  • Henric
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Dear all,

first of all thanks Marijn for your quick response.

Working on the same project as Dominic, I am wondering how to create a legal overview of EcoSan in Accra, Ghana.

Our commissioner wants to market a fertilizer/compost (specifics aren't clear yet) in this area. And we try to set up a framework/overview for present (and possible future) legislation.

Untill now we have indicated the guidelines/rules of WHO 2006, IFOAM 2005, EPA (?) to be important. We did find other guidelines by EcoSanRes, FAO etc...

However we are looking for a way to select the most relevant regulatory institutions in a logical - preferably academically sound - manner.

Any ideas how to tackle this problem?

Regards

Henric

Re: Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation? 10 Oct 2012 08:34 #2434

  • Dominic
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Dear all,

let me quickly summarize some of our findings so far.

The Crepa case project indeed a very interesting case for our project, as urine and faeces are sold to external buyers.
The SOIL foundation Haiti case offered a lot of information on the market research in order to sell soon, but no clear indication of current stage. They also involve new ways to collect the waste resource

In general it seems as if a lot of projects intend to market soon, but still struggle with a lack of actual demand, independent of nutritional values (such as Mewarema/ROSA in Kenya)

I will keep you updated once more, now we focus on the statutory framework of the projects. Until then, best regards,

Dominic

Re: Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation? 16 Oct 2012 02:05 #2466

  • NPreneta01
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Just wanted to jump in here. I work for SOIL here in Haiti and the reason we have been slow to market the composted feces that we continue to produce is that we want to make sure that they are indeed pathogen-free. I'd be curious as to how others are ensuring that what they are collecting/producing is not posing a health risk to others.

We attempted double-vault UD toilets in the past but have moved to a drum system with off-site thermophilic composting systems since 2010 after having very mixed results from the first double-vault toilets we had installed. This, coupled with more recent news that ascaris is being found 3-5 years after being sealed in vaults in South Africa, has lead to SOIL recommending that any off-site reuse of feces from double-vault toilets go through a secondary "hot" composting process.

Our thermophilic composting system works really well, maintaining temperatures up to 175C for extended periods of time, but we still are wary of selling or distributing any composted feces until we can actually prove that ascaris and other pathogens are being killed off within each area of our piles. Initial results from a collaboration with the CDC this year show that the ascaris die-off parallels the e. coli die-off, which is great news, but we are waiting for the final results over the next few weeks.

SOIL's original idea was to be able to cover our costs with the selling of the compost, but we quickly found that this would not come close to covering costs. I strongly believe that there needs to be a cost to the user. Perhaps in larger systems the fees from wealthier customers could be used to partially subsidize the services for lower-income areas, but there should always be a price.

We are currently working on a household model that has users in a lower-income urban area paying ~3USD/mo for a service that collects the faeces, transports to a compost site for treatment, and then provides clean buckets with cover material.

If there are other documents out there about marketing feces/compost, myself and the rest of the SOIL team would be interested in taking a look. Thanks

Nick
Nick Preneta, MPH
Acting Country Director, SOIL
Haiti: 011-4-733-8104
US: 541-326-7845

Re: Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation? 19 Oct 2012 15:39 #2491

  • Dominic
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Dear Nick,

Our project is not finished yet. But let me indicate some experienced projects to you we considered interesting for marketing compost/excreta

Waste concern Bangladesh, market over 500 t compost per month (no human excreta sources)
-Rahman, H. (2011). Waste Concern : A Decentralized Community Based Composting Through Public-Private-Community Partnership., GIM Case Study No. B102. New York: United Nations Development Programme.
-Rytz, I. (2001). Assessment of a decentralised composting scheme in Dhaka, Bangladesh - -Technical, operational, organisational and financial aspects. Duebendorf, Switzerland: EAWAG/SANDEC & Waste Concern

Ecosan UE (Crepa) Burkina Faso that has created demand for their urine fertilizer:
-Dagerskog, L., Coulibaly, C. and Ouandaogo, I. (2010). The emerging market of treated human excreta in Ouagadougou. Urban Agriculture Magazine, 23, 45-48.

Nawacom Kenya and their organic fertilizer Mazingira from animal- and plant waste:
-several sources, but look also at Mewarema Kenya for this case:
Grambauer, F. (2010). Community-based, resources-oriented management of separated human waste in peri-urban areas in Nakuru, Kenya. Sustainable Sanitation Practice, Sanitation as a Business(5), 10-15

I can imagine that revenue streams from just the compost cannot maintain the project, good luck with finding new revenue streams

Re: Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation? 20 Oct 2012 13:36 #2495

  • canaday
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Dear Nick,

These are key issues.

I believe we need to refine a more appropriate protocol for testing for Ascaris eggs in decomposed feces, without the need for expensive equipment (beyond a microscope) or specialized chemicals. I have read in a World Health Organization publication (Manual de Técnicas Básicas para un Laboratorio de Salud. 1983) about a technique to concentrate Ascaris eggs via floating in a saturated salt solution. The bottle is filled to the very top and a microscope slide (or cover slip) is placed on top of it, such that the eggs float up and stick to the slide for subsequent observation under the microscope. I would suggest that a large sample of decomposed feces (1 kg?) could be mixed with saturated salt solution, strained through a tea strainer, and filled into a 3-liter CocaCola bottle for this procedure. This should give a fairly definitive answer to the question of presence or absence of Ascaris eggs, at low cost and with minimal tiem at the microscope. (Anyone looking for a thesis?)

I also suggest that small envelopes of plastic mesh containing feces known to have Ascaris could be dropped periodically into the toilets, for analysis at the end of the process. This would reduce or eliminate the need to concentrate the Ascaris eggs.

Sale of decomposed feces will always have a stigma attached, as the general public has an erroneous mindset that "once feces, always feces". It may be more recommendable for the same organization that is safely processing the feces to apply it in agriculture and then SELL THE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES, thus overcoming this cultural barrier. (At most, people are likely to only ask if the produce was fertilized with chemicals.)

Optimally, this could be done by the users themselves (or a local microenterprise), in their same neighborhood, thus avoiding the need for trucking things from one place to another.

Furthermore, as I have mentioned on this forum, decomposed feces are an excellent cover material for fresh feces (with fewer problems with smell and flies; anyone looking for a microbiology thesis?). The volume of cover material needed is similar to the volume of processed feces, since the feces themselves mostly disintegrate, thus this reuse can largely eliminate the concern for open application of processed feces. If the users have lingering doubts about the safety of this material, this would give them an added incentive to wash their hands, which we want them to do anyway.

Is the publication about Ascaris eggs in double-chambered UDDT compost after years available on the internet?

175 degrees C for extended periods seems much more than sufficient. Do you mean 175 Fahrenheit? 175 Celsius is much above the boiling point.

I also think solarization (e.g., sanivation.org) is an important option for us to explore.

I look forward to continuing this conversation.

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
Last Edit: 27 Oct 2012 12:14 by canaday. Reason: A couple of parentheses and clarifications
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Re: Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation? 21 Oct 2012 15:50 #2502

  • christoph
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Hi Chris,
just in case. Did you forget our discussion?
The study is attached in post #511 or have you been after another study?
Yours
Christoph
Last Edit: 21 Oct 2012 15:51 by christoph.

Re: Marketing excreta in order to create a sustainable system for slum sanitation? 24 Oct 2012 09:34 #2521

  • Massimo
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To all of you who communicated on this topic, go look at this as an option. There is a way to make "soil conditioner" out of human waste, and make a return on the investment. And, the bigger the volume at source, the better the return.
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/53-fae...imit=12&start=12
Massimo Zanette -Parsep / LaDePa
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