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Its time for ecological sanitation, SEI experts say

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Written by Sturle Hauge Simonsen

Monday, 12 November 2007 01:00

Ecological sanitation technologies can provide significant improvement to urban sanitation and sustainable development.

A rising population accompanied by an equally rapid urbanization force urban planners to look for new and improved solutions to sanitation systems.

- New technologies within ecological sanitation (ecosan) provides a range of options, says Arno Rosemarin, Research and Communication Manager for SEI’s EcoSanRes Programme.

Better waste management needed

Om November 6, 2007 a workshop on Urban EcoSan was organised in Trichy, India by the Society for Community Organisation and Peoples Education (SCOPE), the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and WASTE, a voluntary organisation of the Netherlands. The workshop aimed at bringing the attention to the development of better waste management in urban areas.

- Sustainable solutions are not being adopted to tackle the global crisis, Rosemarin says.

- A large number of people are being infected with soil-transmitted Helminths (worms), and nearly 700 million people in 50 countries are eating food irritgated with untreated sewage. Furthermore, about 15,000 litres of water per year is used by a flush toilet user though he produces only 50 litres of faeces and 500 litres of urine a year.

The key to solve this is improved sanitation planning.

The rise of EcoSan City
SEI and the EcoSanRes Programme have been essential in the development of an “ecosan city”, a new ecotown for 3,000 inhabitants in the Chinese Dongsheng District using sustainable sanitation and solid waste management practices. This is the largest urban project of its kind in China and when fully operational, all fractions of waste from the households will be collected and treated onsite using an ecostation and greywater treatment plant. The organic products and water are reused in agriculture.

Here, dry toilet systems that use saw dust instead of water have so far been installed in 830 apartments. The workshop in Trichy discussed how such systems could be adopted in the Indian context.

- Sanitation pays for itself, as the benefits on a global average are worth 10 fold the investment cost, Arno Rosemarin says.

The Trichy workshop was reported in The Hindu.
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