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Ecological Sanitation for Excreta Disposal in Disaster Relief

April 8, 2012

When responding to an emergency situation, ensuring safe excreta disposal is an urgent priority in the disaster relief effort. Through a project with the Technical University of Hamburg, Katherine Kinstedt (see photo) have investigated how Ecological Sanitation (Ecosan) concepts can be employed to meet these needs.

In the following report, you can find some background information on disaster relief, on Ecosan, and on why Ecosan should be considered in disaster relief work. Several examples of disaster relief situations where Ecosan methods were previously employed are described in the third section of this report. These include the discussion of four forms of Ecosan (UDDT, Arborloo, biodegradable bags and composting toilets) in six countries (Bolivia, Haiti, Chad, Philippines, New Zealand and Bangladesh).

To assist decision making in a disaster relief effort, especially within the context of deciding whether an Ecosan concept can be applied, Katherine developed a selection tool which is discussed in the fourth section of the report.

Finally, a new portable toilet was designed to apply Ecosan to meet the need for a portable toilet to ensure safer and easier access to sanitation facilities by all sections of the population, including disabled and elderly people as well as woman and children who face an increased security risk when using community toilets at night. A summary of the proposed design can be viewed in the following attachment or more detailed information can be found in the fifth section of the report. This portable toilet, named the Porta Preta, is able to control odors, hygiene the excreta and facilitate reuse of the excreta through the use of a lactic acid fermentation process. Fixed costs are estimated to be approximately $70 for the first month of operation serving a household of five individuals. The monthly cost would be approximately $0.80 per user per month. 

Feel free to contact Katherine if you have any further questions.

Katherine Kinstedt

Masters Student at the Technical University of Hamburg, Germany

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