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Finding ‘gold’ in ‘poop’: the exciting world of faecal sludge re-use

Faecal sludge may be re-used in many ways. For some, re-use is emerging as a profitable business and a livelihood opportunity. As part of its urban sanitation programme, last 8 July 2020, the WASH team of SNV in Tanzania invited several companies and organisations to share their experience in faecal re-use during a webinar. Here we present a compilation of presentations made.

Attended by over 100 participants, the webinar [1] was organised as part of the WASH SDG Programme, an urban sanitation programme implemented by SNV in Arusha and Shinyanga, Tanzania. The 3.5-hour webinar was arranged in four end-product clusters: animal feed, biomass fuels, compost, and electricity and bio-gas. It ushered in presentations from Kenya, Bangladesh, Ghana and Tanzania. To view the entire webinar, click on video. To view specific end-product cluster presentations, click on the End product title headings below.

Conversion of faecal sludge and other organic waste to animal feed is accomplished by feeding these to black soldier flies. The flies convert waste to protein, which in turn, benefits the growth of other animals.

  • Sanergy, in Kenya is a company that professionally collects sanitation waste and converts these to organic fertiliser and animal feed in a centralised facility. Find out more about how Sanergy uses faecal sludge to make feed for chicken, pigs and fish. View the presentation, Our solution for safe waste management in booming cities.

  • Also in Kenya, the Sanitation Research Centre of Meru University, has recently initiated a three-stage process of faecal re-use, which involves the use of a urine-diversion toilet, collection of waste to its treatment, and conversion to agro-protein and organo-fertiliser. Join the shit revolution for chicken feed and fishponds and view the presentation, From waste to wealth and health.

Briquettes are moulds of compressed biomass that are available in various shapes and sizes. There are different types of briquettes. Carbonised briquettes may serve as alternatives to charcoal. Non-carbonised briquettes may replace firewood and raw biomass fuel. Fuel briquettes and pellets are biomass by-products of saw dust, charcoal dust, grasses, straws, wood waste, husks, and other agricultural wastes, including faecal sludge.

  • NAWASSCOAL, a public limited company in Kenya produces carbonised round-shaped briquettes marketed as Makaadotcom, which are used for cooking and heating. View the presentation, Human poo transformed into fuel for Kenya’s Urban Poor to gain insight on how these affordable and clean energy products are being made and used.

  • Sanivation in Kenya partners with local governments to help meet growing waste processing needs from septic tanks and pit latrines. Sanivation designs, builds, and operates faecal sludge treatment plants, transforming faecal sludge to biomass fuels. View the presentation, Sanitation for secondary cities.

  • Ardhi University from the School of Environmental Science and Technology in Tanzania has been exploring the production of carbonised briquettes from faecal sludge. View the presentations, Potential use of FS char briquettes as a cooking energy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Experience on the process of standards development on briquettes in Tanzania to learn more. The second presentation was done by  the Tanzania Bureau of Standards whose representatives shared their experience and aspirations to set standards for biomass briquettes and other re-use products.

Faecal sludge and other organic wastes may be turned to compost and fertiliser products. Co-composting of sludge has proven to be a productive endeavour in different countries. Different technologies may be used, including the 24-hour composting technology.

  • ECoH holdings in Kenya uses a 24-hour composting machine to produce compost from faecal sludge and other organic materials. Check out how high-quality compost is produced within 24 hours, From garbage to cabbage.

  • ERAS company, in Kushtia, Bangladesh collects both faecal sludge and organic market waste. These wastes are co-composted to produce a fertiliser product that is sold to local farmers. To learn more about the exciting activities in the Kushtia municipality, view the presentation, Experience with co-composting.

Faecal sludge and other organic materials may be converted to biogas and/or electricity for small-scale (households) or large-scale (for industrial purposes) utilisation. In some areas, end product is fed back to the national grid.

  • Safisana Ghana offers an affordable business model for low-cost circular waste treatment to local governments and industries. Following the ‘waste-as-a-resource’ concept, Safisana collects faecal and organic waste from urban slums, and turns these into biogas/electricity, organic fertiliser and/or irrigation water. Learn more from the presentation, An end to end service model for non-sewered waste treatment.

  • BORDA Tanzania, a civil society expert organisation focused on the provision of essential public services, works with many stakeholder groups from community to ministry levels to make sanitation a priority. BORDA shares their experience through the presentation, Biogas from FSTP’s Tanzania.

  • Umande Trust, a rights-based agency believes that modest resources can significantly improve access to water and sanitation services if financial resources are invested to support community-led plans and actions. With a focus on bio-centres, learn how Umande contributes to re-use through biogas in the presentation, Re-inventing the public toilet.

Prepared by: Leyla Khalifa (WASH Junior Advisor, SNV in Tanzania) with input from Olivier Germain (WASH Sector Leader, SNV in Tanzania) and Reinilde Eppinga (WASH Sector Leader, SNV in Kenya)

Note [1] The webinar set the tone for a three-day SNV-organised working session with Arusha and Shinyanga local government officials wherein the potential for city-specific faecal slude re-use was explored. Discussions during the three-day working session were based on lessons learnt from the presentations, and an SNV market study prepared by The Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) Arusha, Tanzania on faecal sludge re-use products.

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Petro Mwamlima
Petro Mwamlima

Thanks for sharing this vital information, I think this is an adequate solution for FSM in urban settings of developing countries, like Tanzania. SNV Tanzania is doing a fantastic work in addressing the FSM issues within the country. The adoption of Sanitation marketing through adding economic value to shit is phenomenon. Yet, more technical and funding efforts are needed in the sector. Hope to see more Sanitation projects implemention by you in Tanzania.

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