UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

  • Arndt
  • Arndt's Avatar
  • Manager, Technician, Socialworker (Former roles: Management of Clay House Project, Namibia)
  • Posts: 10
  • Karma: 1
  • Likes received: 4

Re: UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

Dear Ross,

Thank you for sharing some photos of your UDS-Pedestal with us. Interesting is your manual device for preventing unpleasant view into the chamber. In Namibia it was also sometimes raised this question, on how to avoid visibility to faeces. What I did was reducing light incidence. In my own house I have an indoor Otji Toilet ventilated by an electrical fan. It works well, but the two bathroom windows have given that much light, so a full view into the chamber was provided (photo 1). Since both windows are relatively high placed I decided to install a small “roof” over the pedestal (photo 2). But the shading was not enough to reduce visibility. Finally I painted the area around the pedestal with dark colour (photo 3). This then did brought the impact I was looking for. The combination of shading and painting dark had reduced the light incidence sufficiently. Now when I am looking down I see just darkness. Off course, the depth of the chamber and the filling level of the drums are also playing a role.

Greetings,
Peter

Peter Arndt
www.otjitoilet.org
Otjiwarongo, Namibia
Attachments:
You need to login to reply
  • hajo
  • hajo's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Director of catWASH: consultancy, advice, training in WASH. Late but not too late I have founded my own consultancy hoping to provide useful advice and training in construction, O&M, management and governance of water and sanitation in Rwanda and in the region.
  • Posts: 209
  • Karma: 14
  • Likes received: 89

Re: UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

Dear Peter,

To put the price in perspective: the 700 TSH/m3 is the price in Moshi where most of the water is gravitated from springs and without much treatment (only chlorination) into town. In places where pumping and more treatment are required the price will be higher (the highest being DAR at about 1,200 TSH/m3). These prices mostly cover O&M only with minor contributions to depreciation in some towns.

With regard to your many technical questions, I want to emphasise that you have more practical experience than I do. I will try to answer some and hope colleagues will jump in and correct or amend where necessary.

Where a pour-/flush toilet is connected directly to a pit, I would like to call it ‘soak-pit’ (similar to a latrine pit receiving fluids and faeces) and different from a ‘soak-away’ which comes after a septic tank and only receives effluent/fluids (with minor sediments).

Yes, I think you are right that an increase of flush water increases the risk of ground water contamination but of course also the type of soil and the level of GW have a major bearing on the risk. We had a lengthy discussion on this but I cannot remember the thread, maybe Elisabeth can help .. :) .

I would like to have more information on the risk of nitrate contamination of GW by extensive urine infiltration. You call it ‘minimal’ but was there any ‘research’ done to justify the statement? Here ( forum.susana.org/forum/categories/106-us...or-south-africa#2808 ) you find a discussion on the topic which indicates that the risk (urine soaked away from UDDT) is not a specific risk of the technology but just the same as for septic/soak-away or pit latrine. What about, if we do not soak into the subsoil but flush (1:4, using handwashing water) into a banana plant for immediate reuse of the nutrients?

Quick question regarding the exchange of drums: a new empty drum can be ‘inserted’ under the pedestal without removing the other full drum which has just been moved ‘backwards’ (to the ‘resting’ place), i.e. the full drum has not to be lifted up and lifted down again before it is finally removed 6 months later?

The solid waste in the drums is surely a nuisance but once the stuff is ’composted’ should be easier to sieve out. I am not sure about the hygienic condition of the faeces after 3 years of resting. As far as I know ascari eggs may survive that easily since you seem not to have a proper composting process raising the temperature beyond 50°C (or whatever is required) for a specific period. I guess your ‘composting’ is a rather uncontrolled process of aerobic and anaerobic decomposition, isn’t it?

I am a bit sceptical that the ‘flood control’ of the drums may really work. But since you say that you ‘discovered an interesting side effect’ it must have worked, or? The drums were lifted by the users or by the service provider?

Ciao
Hajo

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of a genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein
You need to login to reply
  • Arndt
  • Arndt's Avatar
  • Manager, Technician, Socialworker (Former roles: Management of Clay House Project, Namibia)
  • Posts: 10
  • Karma: 1
  • Likes received: 4

Re: UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

Dear Hajo,

Thank you for your feedback and the useful link :). Very interesting the option to contain nitrate at that spot where it is filtrated into the ground. I had a similar idea - but yet not implemented. I was searching for an ideal material, to be deposited into the urine filtration hole which could be recovered later and used as fertilizer after absorbing a significant concentration of nitrate. I was hoping that such a recovery could be necessary not more often than once a year with an excavation of less than 0,1 m3 needed. This material should then be a concentrated fertilizer? Concentration should be the key to make reuse cost efficient.

Unfortunately we have not managed to conduct a research on nitrate contamination via UDDT. However, I think quantity of liquid plays a major role. Therefore I cannot see it as the same as for septic/soak-away or pit latrines. I think that contamination of ground with nitrate over an area of 1m2 or maybe 2m2 per household is acceptable even so, that at this very spot vegetation will be permitted. The main point is that this contamination is limited to a specific area and does not spread out due to lack of transportation. The less liquid the less risk.

There is also another research which I would find extremely interesting to be done (or was that maybe done somewhere?). I would like to see investigated the concentration of contamination of pedestals and toilet seats comparing UDDT’s with wet systems. My theory is that an UDDT pedestal is basically always dry due to ongoing ventilation and does therefore not provide living conditions for pathogens. In the contrary, the pedestal of a wet system is not ventilated but is flushed all the time, providing regularly the much needed moisture for pathogens. I even would assume that a not so well cleaned pedestal of an UDDT is maybe less contaminated then a clean appearing flush pedestal.

About the exchange of drums at Otji Toilets. Our chamber is big enough to host up to four drums (1,4m x 0.8m x 1,1m deep). But usually we have only two drums in. Yes, the empty drum is lifted over the full drum inside the chamber, as there is enough space. So we do not need to lift out the fresh full drum. At some toilets with many users we place three or four empty drums in the chamber, to reduce costs of maintenance. Once a drum is full we only need to exchange with another – sometimes the bar owner is doing this himself. Only once all drums are full we come with the pick-up to remove all of them – in those cases they are relatively fresh faeces. But please take note that this is the exception since 98% of the Otji Toilets are at individual households with the 12 month turns. School toilets are getting serviced in holidays, three time annually (trimester).

Yes, our “composting process” is indeed not really composting. It is whatever nature is doing with a huge mountain of mixture from faeces and soil (soil comes in when the bulldozers are moving it). However, I trust that nature will find its way to break it down over the time :). The three years have been indicated earlier to me as maximum surviving period for pathogens and worms.

Greetings,
Peter

Peter Arndt
www.otjitoilet.org
Otjiwarongo, Namibia
You need to login to reply
  • hajo
  • hajo's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Director of catWASH: consultancy, advice, training in WASH. Late but not too late I have founded my own consultancy hoping to provide useful advice and training in construction, O&M, management and governance of water and sanitation in Rwanda and in the region.
  • Posts: 209
  • Karma: 14
  • Likes received: 89

Re: UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

Dear all,

I started the thread with the intention to discuss possible sustainable on-site sanitation systems for use in peri-/urban areas in African towns.

We had so far intensive discussions about UDDTs in various forms. I think we agreed that the urban (large scale) application of UDDTs requires a collection service. I thought originally of a single container with a monthly collection cycle but the samples from Peru (Christoph) and Namibia (Peter) indicate that a 3-month or even 12-month cycle is possible with double containers and will surely be more economical. Urine can either be infiltrated in the soil near the UDDT or be collected at the same cycle as the faeces using larger tanks. We have not so much discussed secondary treatment and possible reuse of the outputs. But a sustainable sanitation service chain should be our first priority (as eThekwini did with their UDDTs) as long as we can safely dispose the outputs.

We have also discussed in length the use of pour flush in connection with twin pits possibly even as vermi-composting system. We are aware that this system asks for water availability in reasonable distance from the household. The infiltration of effluent (blackwater) requires low ground water table, soil permeability, and no flood prone area. Keeping the pit moist but not wet is especially important for the vermi-composting system. The pits need to be emptied only every 2 to 5 years but in the urban context again it should be done by a service provider not by the user.

Pit latrines (as improved or VIP) are quite common also in peri-urban areas. I like to start a discussion about their usefulness/sustainability in this context especially since we have a number of threads where we discuss how pit latrines can be emptied (gulper, rammer) and how pit emptiers can be protected.

I do not question the application of pit latrines in rural areas or rural villages where there is enough space to abandon a full pit latrine and dig a new pit. That is what pit latrines have been designed for!

But they have not been designed for emptying and that happens in peri-urban areas where there is not enough space to dig new pits when the old one is full. Problems faced when trying to empty a latrine pit are manifold:

1. A vacuum truck (honey sucker) cannot reach the pit due to congestion of buildings or poor road access;

2. The slab of a pit latrine has normally only one access, the squatting hole, which is too small for anything bigger than a suction pipe;

3. If the pit can be emptied there is always the danger of soil collapse as most pits are unlined;

4. The pit is often used as solid waste dump and all the debris hinders emptying in whatever form;

5. The sludge in the pit varies considerably in consistency from fluid to mud from top to bottom and from pit to pit depending on GW levels, surface water running in, use as bathroom. This inconsistency makes it impossible to have one emptying technique – at least we have not yet developed it;

6. Due to the technical problems in pit emptying no private enterprise has yet considered it as a viable business opportunity;

7. Public service providers (W&S utilities) have no obligation and no interest (except eThekwini in South Africa) to provide a service chain (emptying, transport, treatment, disposal/reuse) for pit latrines;

8. Thus pit latrine users employ informal service providers who have no proper equipment, have no protective clothing and are asked to provide the job as cheap as possible,

9. Which results in the FS being dumped somewhere in the environment, in gutters, streams as no authority is obliged to supervise the informal services.

Can we agree that pit latrines are not a sustainable sanitation solution for peri-urban areas where they need to be emptied? I know that we have thousands of pit latrines in African towns and they will be with us for the next 20-40 years. And we have somehow to empty them and we have to protect the people who do the emptying. So let us look into that we improve the service chains for those who still have to depend on pit latrines and let us also ensure that the FS is safely processed. But let us not recommend building more pit latrine as a sustainable solution in the peri-/urban context.

Ciao
Hajo

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of a genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein
The following user(s) like this post: goeco
You need to login to reply
  • goeco
  • goeco's Avatar
  • Self employed innovator with an interest in wastewater treatment systems and recycling of nutrients
  • Posts: 249
  • Karma: 7
  • Likes received: 130

Re: UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

Hi Hajo,

From this discussion it does appear that the focus on UDDT's is on sanitation rather than re-use of human waste. It doesn't impress me when I hear of solids being dried, collected and dumped. Neither does collecting urine or concentrating/depositing it in one place. Urine should never be concentrated because of the volatility of N, it should be dispersed. My contributions to this topic were initiated by a long term interest in sustainable cycling of nutrients. Vermicomposting reduces the solids volume multiple-fold and these can therefore be left to rest in-situ (in two chamber system) for as long as it takes to be free of helminth ova (I'm assuming 3-5 years). The product is then "ready to go" for use in crops. Because worms don't like pure urine, the input can be diluted by using handwash water for the next flush as per the GSAP model... wasn't it less than 500 ml per flush in their microflush... certainly no more than needed for handwash, and therefore no more than a UDDT if you take into account handwash water. The fact that the water goes through as blackwater means it is contaminated by pathogens, but surely a decent soak-away is affordable given that apparently people in both Tanzania and Namibia are happy to choose the (OMG!) soak-pit option (as per Hajo's definition above) which requires a large soakage area for blackwater plus costly extraction of sludge. If a vermicomposting chamber were lower cost than a septic tank (as per Hajo's proposal) then flush and reuse goes hand in hand with sanitation, neither needs to be given priority. If initial capital cost for vermicomposting digester/soak-away is higher than UDDT, I'd ask at what point in time would UDDT become more expensive given the additional costs of maintenance? Economics are an important consideration. Anyway, I'd much rather be talking about secondary treatment than soak-aways because if I can treat the blackwater so I can discharge to the soil surface then helminth-free nutrient-rich irrigation water should hold value in any community that values food, especially one with scarce water resources.

Dean Satchell, M For. Sc.
Vermifilter.com
www.vermifilter.com
You need to login to reply
  • Arndt
  • Arndt's Avatar
  • Manager, Technician, Socialworker (Former roles: Management of Clay House Project, Namibia)
  • Posts: 10
  • Karma: 1
  • Likes received: 4

Re: UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

Dear Hajo,

Thank you for racing the topic of pit latrines. Emptying pit latrines is in Namibia not yet a common practise. But I assume that this will come together with grows of our peri urban settlements. From the year 2020 it is expected that half of our population lives in towns.

A while ago we have designed a pit latrine mainly for rural area where professional maintenance of Otji Toilets is difficult to be organized due to transport costs. The super structure as well as the chamber is very similar to the Otji Toilet and this pit latrine is again produced as a prefabricated Self-Build-Kit. The differences to the Otji Toilet are:

1. The pit latrine doesn’t have collecting drums but have therefore a deeper chamber (1,5 or 1,9m deep = 2-3 m3).
2. The pit latrine has a second prefabricated floor slap outside the toilet hut covering the hole where normally the Otji Toilet’s lidbox is located. On top of this floor slap is a huge ventilation pipe installed (2.4m long and 220 mm wide).

The attached sketch illustrates the two systems with differences marked in red. Once the pit latrine is full it can be emptied relatively easy by removing the vent pipe and lifting up the second floor slap outside the hut. This provides an opening of 65cm x 77cm where a labourer can enter to shovel it out. You are right with your observation that the content various significant from pit latrine to pit latrine. But with urine diversion in place the content should not have too much moisture. It is also to note that the emptying process does not start from underneath the pedestal but from behind. Means the labourer has the chance to avoid fresh material by pushing it away and excavating only older material.

However, this design has not yet picked up on the marked since emptying pit latrines is here not popular yet. But whenever it will come to numbers than my company would be ready to offer this service of emptying those pits :). Emptying the pit from a household toilet is maybe needed once in a decade.

Greetings,
Peter

Peter Arndt
www.otjitoilet.org
Otjiwarongo, Namibia
Attachments:
You need to login to reply
  • Arndt
  • Arndt's Avatar
  • Manager, Technician, Socialworker (Former roles: Management of Clay House Project, Namibia)
  • Posts: 10
  • Karma: 1
  • Likes received: 4

Re: UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

Dear Dean,

I agree with you, that reuse of human waste should not fall out of focus. But in the peri urban areas of Namibia it looks similar to Christoph’s picture from Lima - here grows nothing. It is the farmers which would be interested in fertilizer but they are far away. Therefore I was looking into options of concentrating N in order to bring transport costs down. Storing would also be needed. The fertilizer may should than again be diluted from the farmer onside before application.

What I worry now is your indication that N is volatile? Can you elaborate a bit more on this? I thought the UDDT’s would concentrate N (even too much) at the spot where infiltration take place? Methods of concentrating urine known to me are freezing or evaporating. Freezing would be too expensive in Namibia but evaporating could work. But both options require collecting urine before concentration can takes place. Here the costs occur even before processing has started.

Greetings,
Peter

Peter Arndt
www.otjitoilet.org
Otjiwarongo, Namibia
You need to login to reply
  • hajo
  • hajo's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Director of catWASH: consultancy, advice, training in WASH. Late but not too late I have founded my own consultancy hoping to provide useful advice and training in construction, O&M, management and governance of water and sanitation in Rwanda and in the region.
  • Posts: 209
  • Karma: 14
  • Likes received: 89

Re: UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

Hi Dean,

I fully agree with you that our ultimate aim should be the re-use of ‘humanure’. But under the conditions we find in Africa (low priority of sanitation, low income, low appreciation of environmental protection, …) our first aim may be the provision of sustainable sanitation systems (as they did with 80,000 UDDTs in eThekwini, now they look into reuse). In doing so re-use does not disappear from the agenda. I am highly interested to implement pour-flush twin-pit vermi-composting (PFTPVC) systems as we discussed and would love if we can convince people of them at large scale.

But being practical may also mean, that we have to introduce sustainable service chains for pit latrines even if we don’t like so but we have to accept that we cannot replace thousands of pit latrines with PFTPVC systems in a short time, especially if the owners/users are asked to finance them: spending a lot of money on a sanitation system (!), a system they don’t know whether it works (!) and where they are sceptical about the aspect of reuse (!). These are many ‘obstacles’ to overcome, which takes time.

Can somebody from the forum comment on the assumption by Dean that vermi-compost after 3-5 years of resting is free of helminth eggs? I am a bit sceptical but would like if it is correct.

The re-use of the black-water is out if we use twin-pits because it percolates into underground (as from any pit latrine, soak-away, soak-pit). But of course if we replace the twin-pits with double-chamber digester (of concrete and blocks) we can recover the black-water for further treatment and re-use. How could secondary treatment possibly look like?

Ciao
Hajo

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of a genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein
You need to login to reply
  • hajo
  • hajo's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Director of catWASH: consultancy, advice, training in WASH. Late but not too late I have founded my own consultancy hoping to provide useful advice and training in construction, O&M, management and governance of water and sanitation in Rwanda and in the region.
  • Posts: 209
  • Karma: 14
  • Likes received: 89

Re: UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

Dear Peter,

One question for clarification: in the text you mention ‘urine diversion’ in the picture it is not shown for the pit latrine!?!

Your design is definitely an improvement over traditional pit latrines (I assume you also have a fly trap on it) with the lined pit and the proper access for emptying.

Nevertheless, I don’t like so much the idea that old and new faeces are not clearly separated with the old ones dried for longer period and I don’t like the labourer entering the pit.

My alternative proposal would somehow reflect the ‘double pit VIP (S4) in the EAWAG Compendium ( www.eawag.ch/en/department/sandec/publications/compendium ) : build two smaller pits (1.2m deep), but under one superstructure, the pedestal to be changed from one to the other pit (like on S7), with two emptying slabs at the back and provide the labourer with long handle rakes and shovels so that the pits can be emptied from above. Size of pits should be such that one fills in 2 years, then rests for 2 years before emptying.

Of course the system should only be applied in areas with low ground water table and without fear of flooding.

As I write this it comes to my mind that we could upgrade this system possibly to a vermi-composting system. Advantage being that the solid build-up is further reduced extending the emptying cycle considerably and the quality of the composted faeces is also improved. The moisture which the worms require can come from the hand-washing water. If you are interested in such an upgrade of your ‘Otji-Pit latrine’ let us know and we will discuss it with Dean.. :unsure:

Ciao
Hajo

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of a genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein
You need to login to reply
  • hajo
  • hajo's Avatar
    Topic Author
  • Director of catWASH: consultancy, advice, training in WASH. Late but not too late I have founded my own consultancy hoping to provide useful advice and training in construction, O&M, management and governance of water and sanitation in Rwanda and in the region.
  • Posts: 209
  • Karma: 14
  • Likes received: 89

Re: UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

hi Dean,

for a possible design of a double-vault vermi-composting toilet, I try to do some calculations for the required size of the digester basket / toilet vault.

I have based the calculation on the build-up rates which Carl is using for the CompostEra which you find here www.compostera.eu/longterm.html

I attach an EXCEL where I have transformed the info from CompostEra into table of filling rates over 30 years, from which I have used the filling rate for 5 years (~150%) to calculate the required volume for the digester basket / toilet vault.

Can you please have a look at it and let me know how much you agree or where you would calculate differently?

Thanks and ciao
Hajo

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of a genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
E.F. Schumacher
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. :-)
Albert Einstein

This message has an attachment file.
Please log in or register to see it.

You need to login to reply
  • Arndt
  • Arndt's Avatar
  • Manager, Technician, Socialworker (Former roles: Management of Clay House Project, Namibia)
  • Posts: 10
  • Karma: 1
  • Likes received: 4

Re: UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

Dear Hajo,

the pit latrine can be with or without Urine Diversion. We usually decide this together with the customer based on the number of users expected. Sometimes it is only for one or two workers and then we can skip Urine Diversion.

I agree with you that emptying a single pit latrine is not an optimal solution. It is rather the last option in case that the pit is full and no other solution is available. Better is clearly the double pit latrine with the pedestal moved. We have also designed this type - again as a Self-Build-Kit. In our case there is only one vent pipe which is connected to both chambers. But only one chamber is having air flow at a time since the other chamber is closed by then. The photo attached shows our double pit latrine with a hand wash facility attached to the building.

Greetings,
Peter

Peter Arndt
www.otjitoilet.org
Otjiwarongo, Namibia
Attachments:
The following user(s) like this post: hajo
You need to login to reply
  • bowenarrow
  • bowenarrow's Avatar
  • Posts: 57
  • Likes received: 16

Re: [SuSanA forum] UDDT versus Pour Flush (with vermi-composting) versus ???: which are sustainable sanitation technologies and systems for peri-urban areas in Africa?

Good afternoon Peter.

There is another alternative to moving the toilet pedestal and that is to centralise the pedestal over the dividing wall of the double pit and reduce the dividing wall in height by around 300mm. On the top of this lowered dividing wall is fitted a vertical shutter that operates in an arc via a hinge along the dividing wall edge. The purpose is to close one side of the pit until full to the height of the dividing wall and then pivot the shutter through a rod operation externally to open the second chamber.

We did this some years ago with the double vault being sealed all around to avoid soaking away, although if site suitable this would not be necessary. This was a completely dry and separated system with urine going to a gravel filled trench and access to the vault was via a front door at the bottom beneath ground level. The only moisture came from cleaning of the pedestal.
Unfortunately it was a one off and no records regarding decomposition were kept so I am unable to give the time between vault services, but I understand that servicing was simply shovelling due to the dry nature of the humanure.

Cheers Ross
You need to login to reply
Share this thread:
Recently active users. Who else has been active?
Time to create page: 1.363 seconds