The Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation supports joint project by Swiss aquatic research institute and South African water utility
Urine as a Commercial Fertilizer?
14 October 2010 – press release reprint
The separate collection of urine provides innovative opportunities for the improvement of sanitation and the recycling of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Urine separation is an excellent sanitation solution, particularly in places where classic sewer-based sanitation is not sustainable. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is providing a grant of 3.0 million US dollars to support a joint project by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and the eThekwini Water and Sanitation utility (EWS) in South Africa to continue developing practical, community-scale nutrient recovery systems.
The project, covering a period of four years, focuses on the further development of technical solutions for urine processing for nutrient recovery. In addition, project participants, together with experts from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, will study the logistics of collection and transport of urine from toilets to processing facilities. The Swiss aquatic research scientists and their partners in South Africa will also examine ways in which sanitation can be paid for by the production and sale of urine-based fertiliser, thus enabling a cheap, efficient and widely-accepted sanitation system to be set up.
Alternatives are urgently needed
There is a growing awareness that in many parts of the world an alternative is needed for the conventional sewer-based sanitation and central wastewater treatment system – if only for the reason that not enough water is available for drinking, let alone to be used for flushing. There is a pressing need to reduce the number of people with no access to basic sanitary facilities and safe drinking water, as required by the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As well as endangering people’s health, inadequate disposal of faecal material poses a risk to the drinking water supply and contaminates the natural environment. Last but not least, the global demand for fertiliser is so great that interest in local sources of nutrients is growing.
Successful preparatory work in Nepal
Eawag has many years of experience in the research of urine separation, also known as NoMix technology, and in 2007 completed the transdisciplinary Novaquatis project. Since then, Eawag’s project in Siddhipur near Kathmandu, Nepal, has demonstrated that urine processed to make the phosphorus-based fertiliser struvite can help to close regional nutrient cycles and promote awareness of the value of the nutrients contained in urine. Farmers participating in the scheme also benefit since they do not need to buy as much imported chemical fertiliser (www.eawag.ch/stun). «This experience plus the collaboration with an extremely progressive administrative department in Durban were important reasons for developing our project in South Africa for the next four years», says process engineer Kai Udert, who is the Eawag researcher in charge of the South Africa project.
Collaboration with an innovative water authority
Eawag can count on a forward-looking partner in the South African eThekwini region around Durban, since they have already carried out important pioneering work in the field of sanitation. EWS has been promoting urine-diverting dry toilets since 2002 and there are already around 90,000 such toilets in use. However, urine is simply soaked into the ground, which could create new problems in the longer term. A simple, combined system for nutrient recycling from urine will be developed . This will reduce the costs of sanitation, prevent pollution of water resources and produce fertiliser for the local market. «That’s a completely new way of thinking and not just a small step on an already well-trodden path», says Kai Udert.
More information: Dr. Kai Udert, Telephone +41 44 823 5360
SPLASH research call on sustainable sanitation service chains
SPLASH, the ERA-NET of the European Water Initiative will launch a research call on 1st March, 2010. The overall call budget will be approx. 1.7 Mio Euro. The call will be funded by the following donors:
- Austria Development Cooperation (ADC), Austria
- Department for International Development (DFID), United Kingdom
- Ministère des Affaires Étrangères et Européenes (MAEE), France
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Sweden
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Switzerland
The deadline for submitting concept notes is April 23, 13:00 (CET).
1. Topics of the call
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the rates of urbanization have generally exceeded the capacities of national and local governments to plan and manage sanitation systems in an efficient, equitable and sustainable way. Improving sanitation services to the urban poor is an urgent priority that will have major positive impacts on human health and dignity, economic productivity and the environment. Research is required to support these efforts.
The major objective of the SPLASH research call is to contribute to the understanding and implementation at scale of sustainable sanitation service chains in low-income urban areas in Sub-Saharan Africa.
2. Expected projects and expected results
Proposals to be submitted under the SPLASH call should focus on investigation of the sanitation service systems in low-income urban areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. They may consider both working and dysfunctional systems, by investigating and evaluating key factors for success or failure of a system. In particular, proposals should address three main issues:
- The role of service providers, to better understand the nature of the public and private market and its mechanisms in urban sanitation systems.
- The urban sanitation market, to understand and quantify the financial flows in urban sanitation systems, to investigate how the urban poor can participate in the urban sanitation market and to design pro-poor sanitation financing mechanisms.
- The role of policies and regulatory frameworks in shaping sustainable urban sanitation service chains, to understand the key factors of an enabling environment for pro-poor urban sanitation.
Project results should contribute to:
- Understand sustainable sanitation service chains in urban areas from a financial, social, institutional and technical point of view;
- Determine good practice, innovative models, key success factors and barriers for the implementation of sanitation service chains for the urban poor;
- Formulate evidence-based policy recommendations and institutional arrangements that further large-scale implementation of sustainable sanitation service chains in poor urban areas.
3. Eligibility criteria
Each research consortium must be transnational and consist of a minimum of 3 independent legal entities. At least 2 consortium partners must be from one or more African countries and at least 1 consortium partner must be from an European country.
The research projects commissioned by the SPLASH call on sanitation service chains will be limited to 36 month in duration. Each research consortia can apply for a total SPLASH research contribution in the range of 250’000 – 500’000 Euro.
Eligible participants entitled to funding are legal entities like research institutes, universities, private companies including SMEs, public administrations, civil society organisations, and non-governmental organisations from countries of Africa and from European countries.
4. Application procedure and evaluation
The SPLASH research call will employ a two stage application process: in a first step, consortia are invited to submit concept notes. Subsequently, shortlisted consortia will be invited to submit full proposals.
The evaluation process consists of three steps: In step 1 and 2, concept notes and full proposals will be evaluated in a peer-review process; in step 3, the projects to be funded will be selected by an international panel of science and development experts.
5. Forms, guidelines and further information
A detailed applicant’s guide and templates for the submission of concept notes will be available on the SPLASH website http://www.splash-era.net/sanitation-call, by March 1, the official launching date of the call.
For further questions, please contact the call secretariat:
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine wins 2009 annual Gates Award for Global HealthTV footage and radio feed available to download – please see notes at end of this release The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has won the Gates Award for Global Health, and will receive $1 million in prize money.The award was established by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to recognise organizations that have made an outstanding contribution to improving global health, especially in resource-poor settings. The winners are chosen by a jury of international health leaders from more than 100 nominations from around the world, and the award is administered by the Global Health Council. The School is both the first academic institution to win the award and the first British winner.
More at source: http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/news/2009/gatesaward.html
source for all content: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
‘For more than a century, the London School has trained the some of the world’s most outstanding public health leaders’, said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation’s global health program. ‘The School’s commitment to leadership and cutting-edge research has made an immeasurable contribution to health in developing countries’.
Professor Sir Andrew Haines, Director of LSHTM, comments: ‘This award is excellent news for the School and a testament to the hard work, commitment and expertise of our staff and students.
‘We are delighted and proud to be honoured for the work we do which includes researching diseases that particularly afflict disadvantaged people around the world – such as malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS but also increasingly cancer, cardiovascular disease and mental disorders. Equally important is our work to build health systems and train health personnel in low income and post-conflict countries.
‘This award could not have come at a better time for us as it coincides with plans to expand the School’s popular distance learning programme. This programme has helped many talented people around the world to acquire the skills and expertise they need to improve public health. The prize money will enable us to extend that opportunity to many more through development of new courses and provision of scholarships’.
With its outstanding performance in the universities’ 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (a national exercise to evaluate the quality of research in all UK higher education institutions) and its flourishing teaching programmes, the School is a leading institution in the United Kingdom and worldwide for research and postgraduate education in global health. There are 3,500 postgraduate students from around 120 countries studying in London or by distance learning. Staff are involved in research collaborations in more than 100 countries. The School has a strong commitment to supporting the development of teaching and research capacity in low-income countries, with staff currently based at sites in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Sir Andrew will receive the award on behalf of the School in Washington, D.C., United States, at a special ceremony during the Global Health Council’s Annual International Conference on Global Health on 28 May 2009.
For further information, or to interview Sir Andrew Haines, please contact Lindsay Wright or Gemma Howe at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Press Office on email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0) 207 927 2073/2802