Gates Foundation awardee shows the way to productive sanitation
Africa has an urban population of over 200 million people without sanitation services, and Kampala, Uganda is the site of SuSan Design's ground breaking pilot project. Having recently secured land in Kampala, Uganda to set up a treatment site, Karsten Gjefle of Sustainable Sanitation Design
(SuSan Design) in Norway, is a step closer to achieving a sustainable sanitation value chain. PHLUSH's Poonam Sharma caught up with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges
awardee Gjefle to discuss the implementation of sustainable sanitation systems in urban slums across Africa.
Providing dignified sanitation services is just the beginning of the process. “When we started to look at scalable solutions to the sanitation crisis in Uganda, the challenge was viewed in terms of incentives, design and economics,” says Gjefle. Funding has always been an issue for sustainable projects, and SuSan Design was well aware of the need for a sanitation solution that created economics within the system that would keep it running. The cornerstone of this solution is the use of uni-sex home urinals designed in cooperation with women in Kampala, dry toilets, and utilizing human excreta as a resource: urine as a natural fertilizer and faecal matter as a safe soil improvement product that nurtures the soil and improves ability to retain water.
Helping to bridge the value chain going from household to farmer, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
(Uppsala, Sweden) has provided SuSan Design with an inexpensive treatment methodology that achieves 99.99% pathogen reduction in biomass in four weeks. Local partners in Uganda include NGOs, the Makerere University
, and the National Agricultural Research Organization
which will test the product on different crops.
Gjefle and his team hope to have everything in place and aim to start production early next year. "If done correctly," says Gjefle "productive sanitation can improve food security and lead to sustainable economic development for the community. By combining good products, seamless logistics, business incentives with micro-finance the system can be implemented in cities across Africa."
Volunteer Profile: Susan Mund
As an all-volunteer run organization, PHLUSH relies solely on the help of dedicated volunteers to conduct outreach, plan activities, and manage online communications. For this inaugural newsletter, we want to acknowledge the efforts of friend and committed PHLUSH volunteer – Susan Mund.
“It is so confusing that in a world concerned with clean, accessible and affordable water we flush it down the commode with every pee and poo,” says Mund. Passionate about the natural world and humanity, she wants to ensure that future generations will develop sustainable eco-aware sanitation techniques and have sufficient water.
Mund first heard about PHLUSH while planning the Oregon Student Association’s hosted Northwest Student Leadership Conference (NWSLC) in Portland. She invited PHLUSH presenters to speak on issues of gender-inclusive restroom design and ecological sanitation and has been involved with the organization ever since. Mund reminisces, “I stumbled onto PHLUSH indirectly and now I am a dedicated member speaking on the issues of eco-sanitation, from a layperson’s perspective, to everyone I interact with.”
Her detailed knowledge of legal issues, passion for social justice and change and tireless efforts to support PHLUSH make her a huge asset to the ‘smart sanitation movement’.