– World Toilet Day – November 19 –
The United Nations (UN) introduced the World Toilet Day on 19 November to draw attention to the global sanitation challenge and to encourage people to improve the situation. Today, still 2.5 billion people face a daily struggle for proper sanitation. Since its inception in 2001, the World Toilet Day has become an important project to demand action from governments and to reach out to wider audiences. “Despite the compelling moral and economic case for action on sanitation, progress has been too little and too slow,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the World Toilet Day. Earlier this year, the UN launched a Call to Action on Sanitation to provide toilets connected to the sewage system for everyone by 2025 as part of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. For more details about the World Toilet Day please consult this link to the press release by the UN.
In August 2012 an interdisciplinary team of Swiss aquatic researchers and designers from Austria won with their invention as part of the ‘Re-invent the Toilet’ competition, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a special recognition award. Project leadership lay in the hands of process engineer Tove Larsen, researching the issue to separate urine and feces. ‘It was obvious that separation technology should also be part of the competition model,’ Larsen said in a press release by Eawag, ‘only thus can the valuable raw materials and the water in urine and feces be recovered efficiently.’ The team developed a modern squatting toilet, which is able to separate urine and a clever seal against odors. More importantly, it features the use of very little water, about 1 to 1.5 liter per individual use and needs no connection to a water supply. Every time a user operates a foot pedal, water flows into the small water reservoir and already used water is pumped upwards behind the toilet. Cleansed by means of a membrane filter, the used water is also guaranteed free of germs, thanks to electrolysis by a solar powered electrode.
Furthermore, a major concern of the Eawag-EOOS team has been the research and development of a logistic concept for transport that is applicable to conditions in informal settlements in low and middle income countries. A modular system of self-sealing feces containers and urine barrels, along with a transport vehicle, makes the collecting tour as efficient and hygienic as the toilet itself. Finally, the researchers have already worked out how urine and feces can be processed in semi-central treatment plants into saleable products like fertilizer and biogas. A complete business model has thus been developed for the ‘Diversion’ toilet , a type of contracting: a local entrepreneur rents the toilets to the users, manages the collecting tours, runs the treatment and processing plants and finally sells the products.
A working model of the ‘Blue Diversion’ toilet was installed in two informal settlements in Kampala, Uganda, for the first field test in April-June 2013. The toilet was used around 1200 times. More than 400 one-time users and 22 people used it during 2-week family tests and gave their feedback on it. The general reaction was positive, but the test revealed the challenge of building trust in the recycled water and the collection service. Feedback also recommended reducing the toilet’s size and improving its usability for elderly and disabled people.
For more news on the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge Project by Eawag please follow this link.