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Saniforce Faecal Sludge Treatment Unit

Lack of adequate sanitation is an all too common challenge for millions of refugees around the world. Many settlements are not able to provide proper containment & treatment of human waste, a troubling situation for refugees who might remain displaced for decades. In most camps, sanitation is based on pit latrine use. Once the pit is full, waste removal & disposal services are needed and are similarly inadequate due to lack of infrastructure

This lack of infrastructure results in improper disposal and treatment of fecal sludge which in most cases is an open land. Estimates of disease burden highlight high levels of poor health and associated social burden among refugee populations, which are highly related to inadequate WASH facilities and lack of access to clean water.

Solution and innovation

Our innovation is a Faecal Sludge Treatment Unit (FSTU) designed to safely contain and treat human waste. It addresses the health related risks caused by unsafely managed sanitation by containing the human waste in a anaerobic reactor. The effluent is then further treated through thermal disinfection by raising the effluent temperature to 65-75 degrees in a bid to sterilize the waste via complete elimination of pathogens for safe release to the environment.

Our most significant point of innovation is in developing a slurry thermal treatment that is powered by the biogas from the first stage of treatment, and thus the FSTU is completely self-sustaining without the need for consumables (chemicals)

Impact metric

In 15 months of operating the pilot in Kisumu at the KIWASCO lagoons, we safely contained & treated 115m3 of faecal sludge from pit latrines in Kisumu & prevented the omission of 1600m3 of methane that would be generated from decomposition of human waste in pits. The thermal disinfection process has proven to completely eliminate all pathogens in the slurry making it safe for disposal.

The unit received waste from 10 service providers servicing pit latrines of about 500,000 people living in low income settlements of Kisumu. At Least 750 people per day directly benefit from this technology per day as a result of their pits being emptied and waste being safely contained and treated with this technology.

Educational content

This phase of the project has already shown proof of concept with extensive lab data gathered over 9 months showing compete pathogen removal at 60 – 70 degrees at a contact time of 15 min. Detailed findings of this trial and the work has been documented in three thesis projects by ETH Zurich University students.

Next Phase

For the next phase of the project, the team is deploying the solution in an actual humanitarian settings in Uganda. Through support from the World Food Programme Humanitarian Innovation Accelerator Programme & collaboration with the Uganda Red Cross Society,

The pilot unit in Uganda is expected to serve at least 1000 people daily by safely containing & treating up to 2m3 of fecal waste every day.  Learnings from the installed pilot in a real humanitarian setting will be used to contribute to further design improvements to match humanitarian contexts.

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