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Productive Sanitation in Kyrgyzstan – Workshop on the Use of Human Urine from Ecosan Toilets as Fertiliser in Agriculture

In the Issyk Kul region in Kyrgyzstan,more than 100 ecosan or urine diverting dry (UDD) toilets have been installed in the last couple of years. The technology is well accepted and new sanitation technologies are being appreciated, as toilets can be installed inside or adjacent to the house and do not smell

11.09.2012 |WECF

In the Issyk Kul region in Kyrgyzstan, more than 100 ecosan or urine diverting dry (UDD) toilets have been installed in the last years. The technology has been well accepted and the villagers, especially the women, appreciate the new sanitation technology because the toilets can be installed inside or adjacent to the house and do not smell. Adding to that users increasingly acknowledge the benefit of the use of urine as organic fertiliser in their gardens.

Related to sustainable operation and maintenance of the ecosan toilets and the use of the toilet products, the users like to get some further support as the technology is still new. Therefore Claudia Wendland and Fedde Jorritsma from WECF and Anara Choitonbaeva from KAWS organised a training and sharing of experiences for the ecosan owner and other interested villagers which took place on 14-15 July 2012 in the rooms of the newly renovated demonstration center in Toguz-Bulak. 20 participants, mostly women were taking part.

The workshop comprised two parts, one part about operation and maintenance (O&M) and the second part about the use of urine as fertiliser. The session O&M mainly dealt with smell which some participants reported that it occurs sometimes in the ecosan toilet. The different reasons and solutions were discussed how to cope with it. If the smell comes from the faecal chamber, the solution is to better cover the faecal matter; one participant experienced that:“ash as cover material is the best against smelling”. If the smell originates from urine, characterised by typical ammoniak odor, provided that the toilet is sufficiently cleansed, then the toilet seat, the piping and the smell stop need to be checked and maybe need to be replaced. However, some owners of an ecosan toilets said that they have never experienced problems related to smell.

The second longer session about the use of urine, the agronomist expert, Kenje Seitkazieva was invited. She introduced the use of urine in agriculture as urine is a nitrogen rich liquid fertiliser, “Urine is really yellow gold”. She explained the experiments which she had carried out with 9 households on dedicated plots, 6 in Taldy Su and 3 in Toguz Bulak. Carrots, garlic, cucumber and potatoes were grown on two different plots, one with application of urine and another one without. The results in terms of 11 criteria were carefully documented and the results can be summarised as follows: The overall quality of the plants fertilised with urine was higher, the plants were stronger and looked healthier. One family explicitly found that, “the cucumber fertilised with urine is more robust when the temperature is fluctuating from day to night like it is the case in the Issyk Kul region”. In general, the yield of all products was more than two times higher compared to only watered plots.

In the next part, the participants discussed the use of urine replacing chemical fertiliser. Some were still reluctant to use the urine on food crops, that is why the potential health risks were again discussed. It is important to take care of a few rules, such as fertilising with urine latest 4 weeks before the harvest and not directly on plants to be eaten raw. A woman from Bokonbaeva reported about her very good results with fertilising the whole garden with urine from the ecosan toilet, around 500 l urine per year: “ I have the highest yield of cherries on the trees in the whole village.” The amount of urine to be used depends on the crop, trees need less and e.g. potatoes more urine per m2. As a rule of thumb, 1-2 l urine can fertilise 1 m2 per harvest. When experimenting with urine fertilising, there is always also the risk of overfertilising which is unhealthy as well. That is why the discussion about the fertilising potential is important to be clear about and to share the experiences.

In the afternoon, the application of urine in the garden was demonstrated by the head of health care center of Toguz Bulak, Ainyra Alymbaeva. She always applies the urine from her ecosan toilet in her garden, e.g. on potatoes and tomatoes. The participants were impressed of her wonderful garden she had, also thanks to urine fertilising. After that the participants shared their experiences in small group work. At the end, all participants reported that the workshop was very useful for them and they recommended to repeat it in the coming year to share further experiences.

The training was funded through the EuropeAid project “Home comforts”.

Please see our flyer “Urine - the yellow gold”

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