Faecal sludge reuse in Birendranagar, Nepal: a case study of the world health organisation's multiple barrier approach

  • KumiAbeysuriya
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  • Researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Futures (UTS, Australia) with a passion to enable developing countries to ‘leap frog’ to the leading edge of sustainable urban sanitation services.
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Faecal sludge reuse in Birendranagar, Nepal: a case study of the world health organisation's multiple barrier approach

Dear Colleagues,

I'd like to share work we presented at the recent WASH Futures conference in Brisbane. We presented learnings from two pilots run by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation in Nepal, using EM-based lactic acid fermentation to treat faecal sludge/septage for reuse in agriculture. The use of EM in composting (usually cow dung and green waste) is promoted by the District Agricultural Office in Nepal, while some farmers use raw faecal sludge on their land without any treatment. So the objective was to explore safe faecal sludge reuse using the WHO’s Multi Barrier Approach including this 'treatment barrier'. The choice of the EM-based treatment was also inspired by earlier work done by GIZ in Afghanistan.

The pilots showed that the EM treatment was insufficient for reducing helminth eggs and hence not producing a safe product. So more effective treatment before further use is a definite recommendation from the trials! (There is literature on lactic acid fermentation being effective for inactivating indicator bacteria, and the pilots suggested that the treated product was ‘adequately safe’ for reuse taking into account further reductions from exposure to the sun etc).

The EM-treated faecal sludge seemed to perform well as a fertilizer, at least as good and in some cases better than the common fertilizers used for comparison, although it is not clear that it was the EM itself that made this so. However, the fermented faecal sludge was a cheaper fertilizer and hence delivered more profit per hectare cultivated – so it’s worth looking into further to improve the safety.
There’s a Learning Brief (including photos) about it here and a longer article in Water Practice and Technology Vol 13 No 1 2018 ( link )

Your inputs regarding effective low-cost treatments for helminth eggs in the ‘wet’ sludge will be greatly welcomed!

Thanks and regards,

Dr. Kumi Abeysuriya
Senior Research Consultant
Institute for Sustainable Futures
University of Technology Sydney, Australia.
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
WWW: www.isf.uts.edu.au
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