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Combining ecological sanitation and the production of Terra Preta soil in Kyrgyzstan

Ecosan toilets or Urine Diverting Dry Toilets (UDDT) are an adequate and sustainable sanitation solution in areas where there is no piped water and sewerage.

20.03.2015 |




Ecosan toilets or Urine Diverting Dry Toilets (UDDT) are an adequate and sustainable sanitation solution in areas where there is no piped water and sewerage. In rural Kyrgyzstan, ecosan toilets were introduced in the 1990ies by CAAW, WECF, KAWS and other Kyrgyz NGOs and user acceptance has been high.

Many households use the stored urine as a nitrogen rich liquid fertilizer in subsistence farming but in some areas the acceptance for urine use is limited. In Osh, Southern Kyrgyzstan, more than 1500 people use the ecosan toilets which have been implemented in households as well as in schools. Especially women and girls are benefitting from the advanced hygienic standard and increased privacy of the ecosan toilets which are usually constructed adjacent to the house.

The ecosan toilet products – urine and dried faecal matter – are used as organic fertilizer in agriculture and people report about increased yield and benefit Women report that they were able increase their harvest and started income generation with selling the surplus products.

In order to further improve the use of toilet products, Terra Preta production of human excreta has been tested by the student Jasmin Barco in cooperation with CAAW. Terra preta is a high quality soil, result of excellent waste management with high humus content due to biochar or charcoal addition which had been found in the Amazon. Jasmin has been looking into the feasibility of producing a Terra Preta like soil in order to safely manage the toilet products.

To present and discuss her first results, CAAW and WECF organised a workshop in Osh on 17-18 March 2015. More than 20 participants from academia, ecosan practitioners, from NGOs and interested people were actively taking part in the two days theoretical and practical workshop.

Professor Amaitova, Osh University, underlined that soil degradation in Kyrgyzstan is a serious problem and there is a need for conserving the soil and improving the soil quality. Tynar Musabaev, executive director of CAAW, explained that the UDDT is a well accepted sanitation technology in rural Kyrgyzstan but needs to be further supported.

Ecosan owners presented the good results of using urine and compost. There was some sceptism as these products might be unsafe to use, and can spread pathogens. Claudia Wendland, WECF's Water and Sanitation specialist, explained the related WHO guidelines (2006) which give clear recommendations on how to apply toilet products safely.There might stay a risk of misuse but that risk exists similarly for other fertilisers. She gave examples from other countries where national guidelines on the use of urine are available or in planning: Sweden, Moldova, Philippines. Jasmin Barco presented ideas how ecosan can be institutionalised and can be a source of income generation. The participants agreed that UDDT and the use of toilet products should be promoted in rural areas through awareness raising campaigns and capacity building and that it is needed that  toilet products are officially regulated by relevant national policy makers.

The cleanest and most efficient biowood stove: Awamu biomass energy

The second day was devoted to practical activities, the production of biochar of wood in a small gasifier stove was successfully tested and Jasmin demonstrated how to set up the terra preta treatment.
This work has been done in the frame of the EWA project in Kyrgyzstan, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

More information about ecosan and terra preta sanitation:
Claudia Wendland, Claudia.Wendland@wecf.eu


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