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Early testing of new sanitation technology for urban slums: The case of the Blue Diversion Toilet

: Tobias, Robert; O'Keefe, Mark; Künzle, Rahel; Gebauer, Heiko; Gründl, Harald; Morgenroth, Eberhard; Pronk, Wouter; Larsen, Tove A.


Science of the Total Environment 576 (2017), S.264-272
ISSN: 0048-9697
ISSN: 1879-1026
Fraunhofer IMW ()

The toilets used most in informal urban settlements have detrimental consequences for the environment and human health due to the lack of proper collection and treatment of toilet waste. Concepts for safe, sustainable and affordable sanitation systems exist, but their feasibility and acceptance have to be investigated at an early stage of development, which is difficult due to the high costs of building working models. In this paper, we present an approach to estimate acceptance in a valid and representative form with only one working model, and apply it to test an innovative zero-emission toilet with recycling of wash water. Four basic principles were specified for investigation and nine hypotheses formulated to test the feasibility and acceptance of these principles: source separation of urine and feces with subsequent collection for resource recovery; provision of wash water in a separate cycle with on-site recovery through a membrane bioreactor; a convenient and attractive overall design; and a financially sustainable business plan. In Kampala (Uganda), in 2013, data was collected from 22 regular users, 308 one-time users and a representative sample of 1538 participants. Qualitative data was collected from the users, who evaluated their likes, perceived benefits, social norms and expected ease of use based on verbal and visual information. Most of the hypotheses were confirmed, indicating the feasibility and acceptance of the basic principles. Source separation and on-site water recovery were found to be feasible and accepted, provided users can be convinced that the emptying service and water recovery process work reliably. In the survey, the toilet was evaluated favorably and 51% of the participants agreed to be placed on a bogus waiting list. However, some design challenges were revealed, such as the size of the toilet, hiding feces from view and improving the separation of urine and water.