FAECES AND URINE FROM
The concept of ecological sanitation (ecosan) has been explained in the technical brief
Ecological Sanitation: A Concept. This brief outlines in more detail the methods used to
render both faeces and urine safe for agricultural use and provide guidance on application
Excreta from one person can provide nearly enough nutrients to produce approximately 250kg
of cereal per annum (Strauss, 2000). This is one of the reasons the resource has been used
throughout history in both aquaculture and agriculture (the by-product from ecosan is usually
used in the latter). Historically excreta has not always been treated before use, correctly
operated ecosan allows excreta to be reused whilst minimising health risks.
This valuable resource should be used safely; the ‘f-diagram’ shows the numerous routes by
which disease from excreta can be transmitted and the barriers to these infections. When
considering the re-use of urine and faeces from ecosan the barrier of most interest is the
blocking faeces transmission from fields. Figure 1 identifies toilets as a means of preventing
transmission. Re-using excreta from ecosan retains the toilet barrier, but, as opposed to
containing faeces, ecosan toilets treat it prior to application. In addition ecosan can reduce
flies and prevent pollution of groundwater and other freshwater sources.
Figure 1: F-diagram including barriers to potential infection routes [Illustrator: Uno Winblad; Source:
Esrey et al, 1998]
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