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Sanitation needs a more 'holistic' approach

Institution news

ENGINEERS WERE encouraged to approach sanitation in developing countries in a more holistic way at a recent meeting of the Appropriate Development Panel (ADP) held at the Institution.

ADP member Val Curtis from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine told engineers they must 'stop pussyfooting around shit, ' and start focusing on what people actually want from sanitation systems rather than being preoccupied about the latest technologies.

She added that engineers should begin to think more like social scientists when designing sanitation systems, particularly in underdeveloped countries.

Systems must be affordable to local people, easily maintained and socially and culturally acceptable, she said. This would help prevent the 2.2bn deaths that occur each year from hygiene-related diarrhoeal disease.

The meeting 'Shit happens' also included a presentation of the ADP's 'Hands-On' video series published by the Intermediate Technology Development Group.

One film revealed how Indian wetlands were being used to break down faeces by exposing the human waste to sunshine and then feeding it to fish.

A film outlining UK technologies showed how different types of worms were being used to treat sewage in rural areas rather than using septic tanks;

and how in Wessex Water has developed dried sludge pellets rather than wet silage to use on land.

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