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12/04/2009 - 17h44

Ecological Sanitation




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The two most commonly used sanitation technologies today are the pit toilet and the flush toilet. Conventional waterborne sewage systems have proven to be inappropriate to solve sanitation needs in developing countries.The systems are too costly to be provided to all, and only wealthier upper and middle class areas are normally provided with those services.

Approximately 90% of the sewage in cities in developing countries is today discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas. Pit toilets also have limitations, especially in densely populated areas, with severe risks of contaminating groundwater.

Within 20 years from now, it is expected that an additional two billion people will live in towns and cities, mainly in developing countries, demanding safe sanitation. Furthermore, many of the rapidly expanding towns and cities are located in arid and semiarid areas where water scarcity is severely reducing the volume of water available.

In a situation of food insecurity, decreasing soil fertility and escalating prices for fertilizers in world markets, there is a need to utilise the nutrients, especially in human urine, rich in nitrogen and phosphates, for agricultural purposes, thereby increasing productivity and reducing the needs for fertilisers. It is obvious that this enormous challenge leads to a need to rethink, a need to raise the status of sanitation and a need for new approaches, techniques and methods.

This book puts forward an alternative to conventional sanitation called ecological sanitation’. It is based on an ecosystem approach and treats human urine and faeces as a valuable resource to be recycled. It further shows that ecological sanitation is by no means untried there are hundreds of thousands of dehydrating and composting toilets in use around the world today, mostly in rural areas and small communities. What we need now is to develop large-scale applications of the ecological sanitation concept in urban areas both in developed and developing countries.

The book is based on a Sida-funded research and development programme and we hope that it will contribute to the urgent need for a rethinking in sanitation.


Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SIDA

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