Author(s): Kim Andersson, Miriam Otoo, Marcelo Nolasco

Year: 2017

DOI: 10.2166/wst.2017.600

Type: Journal article



Link to SEI author:

Innovative sanitation approaches to address multiple development challenges

SEI 2017 Andersson sanitation journalCrops grown with urine-based fertilizer: alternative sanitation technologies show huge potential to address Sustainable Development Goals. Flickr/ Robert Gensch

This paper puts the case that the UN 2030 SDG Agenda provides an important framework for developing more sustainable sanitation, in terms of both safe sanitation access and wastewater management.

Globally, more than 60% of the human population live without safely managed sanitation services or even lack access to basic sanitation facilities. In addition, most of the wastewater produced in the world is discharged without proper treatment.

Integrated approaches are needed to address these issues and curb the resulting adverse impacts on public health and the environment, and associated societal economic losses.

The authors point out that innovative solutions are booming that treat and enable productive safe use of water and the recovery of nutrients and organic matter from waste resources. Some examples of trends are decentralized solutions, separation of waste flows, low/or no-flushing toilets, and converting faecal sludge to energy. These alternative technologies show huge potential to address many development challenges, contributing to multiple SDGs, but it has been a major challenge to upscale them.

The authors acknowledge there is already a paradigm shift under way in the wastewater sector toward "treatment for reuse" instead of "treatment for disposal", but argue that there is a need to better understand driving forces and enabling environments, new organizational models based on more service-oriented sanitation provision, and to highlight potential multiple societal benefits to attract investments from new sectors.

Read the article (link to external publisher; paywall)