Funding for a MScEng (Chemical Engineering) and a MSc Study (Development Studies): Survey of trash in pit latrines and urine diversion toilets

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  • Chris Buckley is a chemical engineer and has been a member of the Pollution Research Group for over 40 years.
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Funding for a MScEng (Chemical Engineering) and a MSc Study (Development Studies): Survey of trash in pit latrines and urine diversion toilets

Funding for a MScEng (Chemical Engineering) and MSc Study (Development Studies): Survey of trash in pit latrines and urine diversion toilets

The Pollution Research Group, School of Engineering (Howard College Campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa), has secured funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a research and development project on faecal sludge management and the field testing of reinvented toilet prototypes. The presence of trash in pit latrine and urine diversion (UD) toilet waste is problematic for pit emptiers and downstream processing equipment. To understand the scale of the problem, the Pollution Research Group are recruiting two Masters students to undertake a study quantifying the volume and types that are found in pit latrines and UD vaults across eThekwini Municipality (MScEng), and to understand the social aspects around why people dispose of trash in pit latrines and urine diversion toilets (MSc).

These projects will allow an analysis of how trash volumes and types vary depending on the type of sanitation facilities, number of users and location, as well as providing insight into user behavior and how this could be modified to reduce trash disposal in toilets. These projects will have some overlap in data, but will however have very different outcomes.

The MScEng project will focus on:

Quantifying and classifying the types of trash deposited in pit latrines and UD toilets
Analysing how trash volumes and types present in pit latrines and UD toilet vaults vary between case study areas across eThekwini Municipality
Correlating trash volumes and types to context including but not limited to location (e.g. urban vs rural settings), sanitation facilities used and solid waste disposal options available
Identifying the impact of trash in pit latrines and UD vaults on emptying methods and disposal routes.

The MSc project will focus on:
• Undertaking a survey of solid waste disposal options in case study areas with pit latrines and/or UD toilets and understanding solid waste management services provided by the municipality
• Undertaking user surveys to identify reasons for trash disposal in pit latrines and UD toilets
• Identifying potential drivers to reduce disposal of solid waste in pit latrines and UD toilets maintained by eThekwini Water and Sanitation
• Developing a proposed plan of action to improve solid waste management to prevent the problem of trash in sanitation systems.
The expected outcome is to generate knowledge that will enable the relevant stakeholders to minimise or plan for solid waste disposal in pit latrines and UD toilets. This will support the commercialisation and scale-up of products and services being tested in the wider research project.

The MScEng and MSc research projects will require two versatile and self-motivated candidates who ideally have knowledge of quantitative experimental design (MScEng) and carrying out household surveys (MSc). Experience in water and sanitation in developing countries will be an asset. For the MScEng, the research will involve laboratory and field work in communities situated in informal settlements and rural areas, handling faecal sludge and fresh human excreta (faeces and urine). For health and safety reasons, the successful applicants will need to undergo the necessary inoculations.
The positions are available immediately. A total bursary of R 120 000 (over 1 to 2 years) will be provided per student. Payment is made on set deliverables being achieved. The project will also cover the cost of a computer, tuition fees and all research operating expenses for conducting field work.

The MScEng candidate should have an academic background in engineering, and be prepared to handle faecal material, while the MSc candidate should have a background in community development or development studies. In addition, for health and safety reasons, the successful applicants will need to undergo the necessary inoculations.
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UKZN is an equal opportunities employer. If you are interested in this position, please submit an electronic copy of your transcript, degree certificates and a CV with two referees and a covering letter explaining your motivation to Ms Susan Mercer (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted and the deadline for applications is 31st July 2018.

Chris Buckley
Pollution Research Group
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Durban
South Africa
prg.ukzn.ac.za/

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