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Ecological Sanitation – successful results from testing urine as fertilizer

Human urine from a school's urine-diverting toilets proves to be an excellent fertilizer for a maize field

14.09.2005 |Magriet Samwel

Farmer from Garla Mare, Romania, applying urine from the school ecosan toilet to a test-field

From November 2001 – February 2003, WECF and the Romanian NGO Medium et Sanitas (M&S) carried out the MATRA project „Safe Drinking water“ in the Romanian village Garla Mare. One of the out comes of this by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs financed  project was the construction of dry double vault urine diverting toilet-building for the primary school in Garla Mare (200 children). For more information on this pilot project go to the Romania project page.

In spring 2005, the urine of the schoolchildren - after sceptization through storing - was used as a fertilizer on a maize field of the local medical doctor. The doctor is extremely satisfied with the results. Urine is an excellent fertilizer. The quality of the maize which had been given urine was much better than the maize which had not been given urine. A report for the Millenium +5 Summit by the Stockholm Environment Institue estimates that Africa can be completely self-sufficient in fertilizer if it starts re-using the nutrients in human urine.

This maize was grown with urine as fertilizer, the maize grown without was much smaller (see photos in the report which can be downloaded below)

The urine had first been tested by the University of Hamburg-Harburg which is giving scientific follow-up to the project. The Universtiy found that the storage period of 6 - 12 months was more than sufficient. They found no patogenes in the urine. There were even less bacteria in the urine, than in the drinking water people use from the wells!!

Read the full report on the use of urine fertilizer.