What is the difference between ecological sanitation (ecosan) and sustainable sanitation? When are they the same and when not?

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  • madeleine
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  • Sanitation is dignity and life. Through living and working 15 years in (Mozambique) where Cholera is endemic, the importance of sanitation became evident, furthermore it is clear that sanitation is more than an infrastructure
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Re: Is there too much focus on ecosan in the SuSanA discussion forum?

Dear Kai
I do not agree with your interpretation of ecological sanitation, within the definition it is clearly stated that we are referring to safe use and minimize impact on non renewable resources. there are still sustainability challenges linked to these system to make them sustainable and those are more linked to social / acceptance aspects and the logistics arround the reuse.
I am also happy to share with you todays tweet from Sidas deputy director visit in Bolivia where there a huge national ecological sanitation program is implemented

Kind regards
madeleine

Ecological Sanitation

Ecological sanitation systems safely recycle excreta resources (plant nutrients and organic matter) to crop production in such a way that the use of non-renewable resources is minimised.



The statement ‘safely recycle’ includes hygienic, microbial and chemical aspects. Thus, the recycled human excreta product, in solid or liquid form, shall be of high quality both concerning pathogens and all kind of hazardous chemical components. The statement ‘use of non-renewable resources is minimised’ means that the gain in resources by recycling shall be larger than the cost of resources by recycling.



The definition of ecological sanitation is focusing on the health, environment and resource aspect of sustainable sanitation. Thus ecological sanitation is not, per se, sustainable sanitation, but ecological sanitation systems can be implemented in a sustainable way and have a strong potential for sustainable sanitation, if technical, institutional, social and economical aspects are cared for appropriately.
Madeleine Fogde
Program Director SIANI
Senior Project Manager at SEI
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  • KaiMikkel
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Re: Is there too much focus on ecosan in the SuSanA discussion forum?

So I thought. But reading the other threads that were originally part of this one* it appears that the most commonly accepted definition of "ecological sanitation" is inclusive of practices like dumping sludge collected from wastewater treatment plants ("WWTPs") and septic systems onto agricultural land (and other lands), something that I and many others view as horribly shortsighted if not downright dangerous. So, even though there's nothing 'ecological'** about the systems that produce sludge (sewers, septic tanks, WWTPs, etc.) folks are apparently OK with using the phrase "ecological sanitation" to describe them, just so long as the solids produced by these systems are applied to land (as opposed to disposed of in a landfill, etc.).

As was pointed out in an associated thread, while all sustainable sanitation technologies meet the 'ecological sanitation' definition, not all ecological sanitation technologies meet the 'sustainable sanitation' definition. Systems that produce sludge/biosolids are a good example of this. While they apparently can be called "ecological" they cannot be called "sustainable".

So, in light of this, I'm now using the phrase "sustainable sanitation" to describe the lasting sanitation solutions that I'm advocating for.


** The Collins British English dictionary defines "ecological" as: "...tending to benefit or cause minimal damage to the environment".


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* Note by moderator: See here for the other thread on the definition of ecosan: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/39-any...n-is-there-a-problem
As well as here on the wastewater reuse scheme in Braunschweig, Germany:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/40-irr...s-it-goodsustainable
Kai Mikkel Førlie

Founding Member of Water-Wise Vermont (formerly Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge)
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Re: Is there too much focus on ecosan in the SuSanA discussion forum?

What would you term sustainable? Isn't ecological just that? If the bulk of posts relate to, I assume, UDDTs (not wanting to delve into the previous thread!) then perhaps the vast majority feel that is the best way of achieving sustainability and scale?
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What is the difference between ecological sanitation (ecosan) and sustainable sanitation? When are they the same and when not?

Note by moderator: This post was originally in this thread but it began a new side topic, hence I created this new thread to make it easier for people - especially those that don't read daily on the forum - to follow.

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As I just posted over on the other portion of the original thread ( forum.susana.org/forum/categories/39-any...it=12&start=24#10164 ), yes, I feel we are spending too much time on "ecological sanitation" when what we should be focused on are real and lasting sanitation solutions, in other words, "sustainable sanitation". [Sigh]
Kai Mikkel Førlie

Founding Member of Water-Wise Vermont (formerly Vermonters Against Toxic Sludge)
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