the world, there is growing interest in ecological sanitation systems--systems
that safely recycle wastewater for a variety of populations and settings. These
low-cost systems have been perfected (based on lessons learned from the past in
both industrialized and developing countries) and are increasingly in use to:
the disease cycle
pollution of water
nutrients and moisture to grow plants
sanitation where there is none
EcoSan Center offers system design, workshops, demonstration projects, information
materials, resource referrals, systems evaluation and technology transfer and
ecological sanitation systems
for ecotourism initiatives
Problem, the Solution (From Greenpeace document, "Sewage Pollution")
Sewage—human and animal waste—is the most significant source of marine and
groundwater pollution in many developing countries.
every island nation has identified critical environmental and public health problems
resulting from the disposal of human excrement—from contaminated drinking water
wells and outbreaks of gastrointestinal disease, Leptospirosis and cholera, to
dying reefs, algae blooms and eutrophication in lagoons.
causes of this pollution include overflowing latrines and privies, water-sealed
toilets, septic systems, piggeries and sewage treatment plants, as well as a complete
lack of sanitation facilities in some places.
western centralized waste treatment technologies have failed in developing countries,
because they rely on continuous money for parts and technical support. They also
require changes in lifestyle and parts that can only be imported. Many systems
have been constructed by donor countries and development agencies only to fail
and require dismantling at great expense to avoid future hazards.
is needed are sustainable, ecological, easy-to-use, simple-to- maintain systems—based
on local materials and local ways of life.
Center for Ecological Pollution Prevention (CEPP) has advised on and designed
wastewater systems for a wide variety of applications. We’ve also conducted workshops
and demonstration projects on building sustainable, ecological sanitation systems
all over the Pacific and in other locations. These are hands-on workshops; participants
not only learn about the system, they actually construct one, too. These systems
are easily used, understood and duplicated by local populations.
more, these systems not only protect environmental and public health, they can
save money as well.
has designed and demonstrated systems that transform “wastes” that have a high
treatment and disposal cost into “resources” such as food, soil conditioners,
fertilizers, building materials, fuel and animal feed.
systems employ natural processes to treat wastes. That means the capital and operating
costs are far lower than conventional, purely mechanical western technologies.
Also, they are intuitively understood by the users, so there are fewer maintenance
explaining and demonstrating how to build systems that produce positive results,
such as plants and soil conditioner, rather than potential pollutants that need
to be treated, they are sustainable, too. They do not cause future problems.
ecological wastewater systems, taking into account site specifics, climate and
local maintenance and acceptance issues
workshops, presentations and seminars for health and government officials, local
residents and developers
demonstration projects in which sustainable systems are built in as little time
as a week
public information materials and campaigns to inform local populations
resource-conserving systems and solutions for existing or new development
on ways to conserve water and energy, reduce waste and avoid pollution and manage
and train utility company staff members
to Resources (in no particular order):
programs do not have websites. See The
Composting Toilet System Book for profiles of these and other organizations
and the systems they use.
Case Studies on Decentralization
of Water Supply and Sanitation in Latin America
of how wastewater management is being decentralized in Latin America (although
these initiatives did not include composting toilets or other ecological systems),
by Environmental Health Project (EHP) of USAID, the foreign assistance
agency of the United States. Also use search term, "decentralized,"
in this USAID database: www.dec.org
Also: EHP has established DECNET, an information network on the decentralization
of water and wastewater organizations in Central America and the Caribbean. It
focuses on lessons learned, current or proposed projects and research, and provide
a periodic bulletin on news from network members. To join, send to firstname.lastname@example.org
the following message: DEC-SUBSCRIBE
Composting Toilet System Book, published by CEPP, describes 50+ source-separated
systems (blackwater and graywater), as well as several programs introducing these
systems worldwide. Two more books about aspects of ecological wastewater management
will be released by CEPP in late 2001.
The following resources are mostly geared to developing countries.
Konsult: Uno Winblad is an architect and author of Sanitation Without
Water and Ecological Sanitation (perhaps the origin of the term, "ecosan.")
See this website for information on drying toilet projects worldwide, as well
as details of an ecosan conference in China in 2001, notice of a SIDA ecosan workshop
in Sweden and links to free downloads of the excellent book, Ecological Sanitation.
The Swedish international aid agency, SIDA, has taken a lead in promoting ecological
sanitation systems in developing countries, focusing mainly on drying toilets
(pathogen kill through high-alkaline additive).
& ESAC in Mexico: Centro de Innovación en Tecnología Alternativa, A.C.
(CITA) organizes local cooperatives to manufacture urine-diverting toilets. Espacio
de Salud (ESAC) conducts programs for introducing these and other systems and
practices for better environmental and public health.
in Mexico: Resource Institute for Low-Entropy Systems (RILES) helps build site-built
Clivus Multrums and graywater systems worldwide, with most installations in Central
in Mexico: Grupo de Tecnologia Alternativa S.C. manufactures composting toilets
and promotes and designs other wastewater systems.
Aerobic Aquaculture Systems to come
Bio-Systems : A Global Perspective, a report by Jacky Foo, an affiliate of
UNESCO and director of the Integrated Bio-Systems Network internet forum
the urine blindness to provide more sanitation options by Jan-OIof Drangert,
Linköping University, Sweden
A social scientist maintains that diverting
urine allows a form of wastewater recycling that is more hygienic and more culturally
acceptable, while producing a better end-product.
Technologies for Domestic Wastewater Treatment and Reuse: options for urban agriculture
by Gregory Rose
An overview paper about a variety of wastewater recycling
options, with a focus on possibilities for developing countries. (Note that CEPP
does not endorse manually harvesting duckweed in sewage ponds.)
Solutions for Managing Community-generated Organic Waste: A short article
summarizing the above and offering links to other programs.
overview article about ecological sanitation, with links
Myths by Mayling Simpson-Hebert
How improving sanitation can improve health
more effectively than improving water supply--yet sanitation gets less emphasis
by international development agencies (link or download to come)
Weekly and Source Bulletin, published by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative
Council (WSSCC) and IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, brings you
a weekly update of short news and updates on water-san sector news for the international
development scene: http://www.wsscc.org/source/
Promotion features case studies of sanitation promotion initiatives, Mayling Simpson-Hebert
and Sara Wood, eds. WHO, 1998 (avail. in the U.S. through Stylus Publishing)
Out Fast: Investigative Skills for Policy Development, Alan Thomas (Editor), Joanna
Chataway (Editor), Marc Wuyts (Editor) 1998
to the Peace Corps: A Directory of Third World & U.S. Volunteer Opportunities,
Filomena Geise (Editor) 1999
Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid International Charity, Michael
to more links:
Lots of raw information on both sites