Details on waterless urinals for women? - and for female pupils in schools in Africa

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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Details on waterless urinals for women? - and for female pupils in schools in Africa

I got the following reply by Björn Brandberg by e-mail on 7 May 2016:

++++++++++

The idea was born in Malawi where I was a National sanitation adviser in discussion about school latrines, using sanplats on a gravel bed draining the urine towards an infiltration pit. To save on cost we thought we could drop the partitioning walls as the girls were quite relaxed to urinate in the open.

In Mozambique on a consultancy for WaterAid we made particiatory design of public latrines with a group of local women of different ages in a simple role play we simulated the layout with bricks on the ground. The women were of the opinion that women should have no problem in sharing the same space for urination. We also positioned the urinal so that the hand washing water was led through urine drain, hence reducing he smell.

My friend and colleague Thornbjorn Norremark took the idea to Angola where where he was building school latrines with Development Workshop. He had omitted the footrests, just a sloping slab and an infiltration pit. According to Thorbjorn it worked very well.

For a UNICEF school sanitation project in Malawi the Angola design was recommended and worked well.

As Belinda Abraham (UNICEF) transferred from Malawi to Ethiopia she took the design with her where I understand it was very well received.


This is as much as I can remember. My own assessment of the design is that the girls latrine can have the same design criteria as the boys’ latrines. The queuing to the cubicles can be reduced to a minimum and and costs reduced. The latrines may also last longer as the mixture of urine and faecal matter commonly clogs the soil around the pit.

I hope this is helpful.
Björn

+++++++++++
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Details on waterless urinals for women?

Dear Bjorn!

Welcome to the SuSanA forum! I am happy to see you here - I have heard your name before, I think it was Belinda Abraham from UNICEF who had told me about your work in Malawi but that was some years ago.*

You said:

In Malawi and Angolan schools the same system was used without footrests.

Could you please tell us a bit more about this? Who was promoting this? Can you please direct us to any reports or photos of such waterless urinals for boys and girls in schools?

Regards,
Elisabeth


* It might have been in the context of preparing this paper, but I am not sure now:
Abraham, B., Kakumbi, G. M., Alam, M. M., von Münch, E. (2011). Alternative solutions for challenging environments: A look at UNICEF-assisted ecosan projects worldwide. 35th WEDC Conference, Loughborough University, UK
www.susana.org/en/resources/library/details/1257
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Details on waterless urinals for women?

Dear Patrick,

I just wanted to react to your post of 3 December where you mentioned the Uridan urinals with the oil-based odor seal. This kind of odor seal is not bad but it does have some drawbacks. For people interested in the pros and cons of different odor seals for waterless urinals see here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/172-ur...ne-diversion-toilets

My personal conclusion when I was doing quite some work on waterless urinals a few years ago is that seals without oil but which rather use the flat rubber tube valve (e.g. by Keramag) or silicon curtain valves (e.g. EcoSmellStop) are more cost effective in the longer term.

Nevertheless I would be interested to find out how well that waterless urinal for women by Uridan is selling in Denmark or other countries! Does anyone have any information on this or could easily find out something?

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • Bjorn
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Re: Details on waterless urinals for women?

In relation to urinals for boys and girls in schools the urinal can positively be designed the same way. What we need are elevated footrests that directs the user to the right place which avoids soaking all over the place. In between the footrests is a sloping surface that leads the urine off to a channel along a wall. Men will comfortably pee against the wall allowing the pee to drain down to the channel along the wall.

Adding a hand washing facility at the upper end of the wall-channel will help to reduce the smell. At the end of the channel the urine can be collected or allowed to drain into the soil in a soakaway pit. Making the soakaway hollow a bucket for collection of the urine can be placed inside. If overflowing the excess urine will just infiltrate. Some crush at the bottom will help to infiltrate the excess urine.

In Malawi and Angolan schools the same system was used without footrests. Just a smooth impermeable area draining towards the wall channel. In dry weather to urine would dry quickly, and in the rain the cleaning is automatic.

Comments are welcome
Bjorn Brandberg

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  • toiletrevolution
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Re: Details on waterless urinals for women?

Hello,

Uridan, based in Denmark, make this waterless urinal for women:

www.toiletrevolution.com/products/waterless-urinals/compass/

There is an oil based trap that prevent odours from the sewer. The manufacturer says that this oil lasts 15000-20000 uses. Here is video on you tube showing how it works.
Patrick Boylan
www.toiletrevolution.com/

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  • canaday
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Re: Details on waterless urinals for women?

Dear Balan,

As Elisabeth explained, women's urine is excellent for the soil, regardless of whether they are in menstruation or menopause, roughly the same as men's urine. The point is to apply it correctly in the soil, as G. Sridevi demonstrated in her PhD thesis in India.

bioresonline.org/archives/A144.pdf

One key datum is that large amounts of urine can be mixed into bare soil, more than one week before planting the crop, as this allows time for the soil microbes to assimilate the nitrogen, without plants being there yet that could get overdosed. When plants are there, dosing of urine must be more carefull.

If people are worried about handling women's urine that may contain menstrual blood, this is all the more reason to consider installing perforated hoses buried in the ground, so the urine is dispersed in the soil immediately without anyone having to have contact with it. In this, I recommend having a separate perforated hose for each urinal, in order to disperse the urine more and to avoid connections that could get plugged.

Please tell us more about the situations that you are planning for. Is there room for banana plants and fruit trees? Or is it in a densely populated inner-city? In the latter case, farmers should be found who would like to receive the urine as fertilizer.

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com

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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Details on waterless urinals for women?

Dear Balan,
I think you meant during menstruation not menopause? You are worried about the menstrual blood mixing with the urine?
I can tell you don't worry because the amount of blood compared to the amount of urine is insignificant and does not hamper any urine reuse activities.

There is a nice factsheet from 2006 from WECF addressing exactly this issue which I like very much:

WECF (2006). Ecological sanitation and hygienic considerations for women - Fact Sheet. Women in Europe for a Common Future, Netherlands and Germany
www.susana.org/en/resources/library/details/426

More about menstrual hygiene management (but not specifically about urine and menstrual blood and reuse) can be found here:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/24-men...l-hygiene-management

So technically/scientifically there is no issue here; however perhaps some people have additional cultural taboos around menstrual blood in urine during reuse activities. If anyone has experiences on this, please share (could also start a new thread on this).

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • balan52
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Re: Details on waterless urinals for women?

Dear Chris, Thanks for the mail for the design of Ladies water less urinals. Please note that since the urine is used a N rich liquid fertilizer I doubt whether the urine of women during menopause is advisable/applicable to fruit/crop plant or trees. Kindly advise.

best regards,Balan

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  • bsoutherland
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Re: Details on waterless urinals for women?

Claudia,
Charcoal fines are a byproduct of lump charcoal production and can be purchased cheaply from manufacturers or vendors. I prefer to make biochar from crop waste. There are many types of retorts for making biochar. A few are listed here: www.biochar-international.org/technology/opensource

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  • canaday
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Re: Details on waterless urinals for women?

Dear Balan,

One of the advantages of that which I propose is that all of the parts already exist and do not need to be specially manufactured. The funnel we use is the standard 25-cm-diameter, plastic funnel that costs approximately US$2.50 (see attached). This funnel is easy to use and channels the urine into a thin hose that goes to the bottom of the storage container ... or is perforated and buried among fruit trees ... thus a seal to keep odors from coming up from the sewer is not necessary. A mesh bag of biochar (as bsoutherland suggests) could be placed in the funnel, but is generally not necessary.

I also attach a drawing of a simple female waterless urinal. The words are in Spanish, but you will likely understand (and I encourage you to ask any questions you may have). Note that there is a handle for the user to hold on to for support and equilibrium. The floor is 3-cm-thick ferrocement with ceramic tiles, or whatever floor you prefer. I propose building without roofs, to allow for more fresh air, light, cleansing with each rain, and sterilization with each strong sun. The funnels can be removed for cleaning, replacement, or safe storage when the institution is closed.

Please let me know if I can be of any further help.

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
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  • CWendland
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Re: Details on waterless urinals for women?

Where do you get the biochar?
What are your suggestions for local production of biochar?
How to make sure that the production is not generating unhealthy smoke and the biochar quality is ok (without containing toxic substances)?
Claudia
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  • bsoutherland
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Re: Details on waterless urinals for women?

When available, biochar and urine work well together. Char provides odor control and splash control in an open bucket. Urine inoculates char for direct introduction into garden. Since char is ad-sorbing instead of ab-sorbing, less char is needed than un-charred biomass that is often used to absorb urine in composting toilets.
BTW, Char also keeps feces odor free. A simple retort that turns crop waste into char provides heat to render feces safe for fertilizer or for briquette binder. This approach to pathogen kill off shortens processing time from months to minutes.

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