Discussion Group
Pilot Projects

Global MDG Challenge

2.5 billion with no sanitation
1.75 billion to be served by 2015

450 million new installations by 2015

15,000 installations per hour to 2015



Background and Vision

Approximately half of humanity lacks any kind of sanitation. The situation is unlikely to change soon if conventional approaches are continually promoted. With rapid urbanisation, population growth, growing income disparities and increasing water scarcity, conventional approaches are becoming increasingly too costly, too complex, or just plain technically inappropriate. In addition to a changing world affecting sanitation solutions, conventional sanitary approaches are leading to other problems. Underlying the conventional approach to sanitation is an assumption that excreta are a waste suitable only for disposal, and the conventional technologies are designed to dispose of excreta. These linear approaches fail to recycle nutrients, to prevent pollution or to protect health. Thus, surface and ground water become contaminated and the resulting soil infertility leads to costly measures and pollution. Because conventional approaches are not available to half of humanity, high rates of infectious disease and infant mortality rates continue to exist.

The overall goal of EcoSanRes is to create a global confidence in ecological sanitation as a trustworthy, affordable and sustainable alternative for design of sanitation systems. This requires a new understanding of sanitation, a holistic system based on healthy ecosystems. Residual material is recycled and reused as part of an ecocycle process. External inputs into the system and "wastes" that exit the system are reduced to a minimum or eliminated. Very little water or no water is used. Excreta are processed and rendered safe, close to the point of excretion, pollution is minimized, protecting ground and surface water, and nutrients and carbon are returned to land and made productive, which implies closing the loop. The holistic and ecological approach becomes safe and non-polluting. It can be gender and culturally acceptable; economically feasible; environmentally sustainable; and protecting and preserving the local ecosystem.

Healthy and better-nourished individuals may be an immediate benefit of such systems. It can also provide and generate employment through the provision of services to implement and sustain the systems. These factors contribute toward viable communities, whether urban or rural, and contribute towards the alleviation of poverty. Attaining the vision requires a change in how people think about sanitation and how it is integrated into the rest of society.


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© 2009 EcoSanRes, Stockholm Environment Institute (sei-international.org)
Last modified: 14-jul-2011