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Deze zoektermen werden geselecteerd:  in  search  of  drivers  for  dry  sanitation 

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Land Use and Water Resources Research
Land Use and Water Resources Research 6 (2006) 4.1–4.9
© Venus Internet
In search of drivers for dry sanitation
Sanna-Leena Rautanen
and Eeva-Liisa Viskari
Institute for Environmental Engineering and Biotechnology,Tampere University of Technology,Tampere, Finland
Tampere Polytechnic University of Applied Sciences,Tampere, Finland
There is increasing awareness and concern about water pollution and water scarcity, and sanitation has
been acknowledged as a critical dimension of both. This paper summarises the findings from the 2
International Dry Toilet Conference 2006 (DT2006), held 16–19 August, 2006, in Tampere, Finland.
The main objective is to publicise a range of research and real life experiences dealing with an
uncommon subject: dry sanitation (DS). It was concluded, among other things, that continued technical
and institutional development is needed because DS as a decentralised option calls for innovative
approaches. Dry toilets based on urine diversion were recommended also for urban areas as urine has
high concentrations of both nutrients and such micro-pollutants as pharmaceuticals and oestrogens,
both of which are difficult and costly to remove by conventional wastewater treatment processes. The
Conference urged continued serious and systematic research, also in the real life context, and taking
small but tangible and sustainable steps towards better sanitation.
Introduction: rationale for dry sanitation
The sanitation crisis gets more serious every year: about 2.6
billion people, or 42 per cent of the world population, lack
access to basic sanitation. That is more than double the
number of those who lack access to safe drinking water —
1.1 billion people, or 18 per cent of the world’s population
(WHO/UNICEF, 2005). In 1990, the Millennium
Development Goal (MDG) 7 set the target of halving the
proportion of the population not served by 2015 (The
World Bank, 2004). To achieve this, an additional 1.8
billion people need to be provided with improved sanitation
between 2002 and 2015. Even if that target is achieved,
another 1.8 billion people will still lack adequate sanitation
in 2015 due to population growth (WHO/UNICEF, 2005).
Sanitation and water quality problems are further
aggravated by poor or non-existent wastewater management:
about 90 per cent of sewage in developing countries is
discharged untreated into water courses (International
Decade for Action: Water for Life, 2005–2015). This
problem applies also to so-called developed countries. For
instance, it is estimated that some 74 per cent of Europe’s
rural areas are covered by sanitation, while urban coverage
is 99 per cent. Yet this does not mean that all urban people
are connected to safe and sustainable sanitation systems.
Several European Union member states are yet to satisfy the
requirements of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive
(UWWTD; 91/271/EEC) which calls for all agglomerations
of more than 2000 population equivalent to be provided
with collecting systems and appropriate treatment by 2005
(WHO/UNICEF, 2005). These pitfalls in wastewater
treatment do not only pollute the usable water sources, but
water is also wasted when flushing toilets and through leaky
The results of poor sanitation and water supply are well
documented. For instance, it has been estimated that more
than 2.2 million people, mostly in developing countries, die
each year from diseases associated with poor water and
sanitary conditions (WHO/UNICEF/WSSCC, 2000). At
any one time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied
by patients suffering from water-borne diseases, and every
week an estimated 42 000 people die from diseases related
to low quality drinking water and lack of sanitation. Over 90
per cent of the victims are children under the age of five.
(WHO/UNICEF, 2005).
There is global epidemiological evidence that sanitation
is at least as effective in preventing disease as improved
water supply. Studies have shown that water quality alone
will not reduce diarrhoea. For instance, Jensen et al. (2004)
investigated the association between bacteriological
drinking water quality and incidence of diarrhoea among

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Land Use and Water Resources Research
Land Use and Water Resources Research 6 (2006) 4.1–4.9
© Venus Internet
children under five years old, and found no correlation
between the incidence of childhood diarrhoea and the
number of Escherichia coli in the drinking water sources
(the public domain). Faecal contamination levels in
household water containers were generally high, even when
the source water was of good quality, pointing towards the
importance of household hygiene and sanitation rather than
water quality at the public tap. Tumwine et al. (2002) had
earlier concluded that determinants of diarrhoea morbidity
included poor hygiene (unsafe disposal of faeces and
wastewater), education level of household head, water
obtained from surface sources or wells and per capita use
of water for cleaning; they also stressed that hygiene practices
are an important complement to improved water supply and
sanitation in reducing diarrhoea morbidity. If this is ‘old’
news, why has the sanitation situation not improved but
instead become increasingly worse?
In recent years awareness and concern about water
pollution and water scarcity has increased, and sanitation
has been acknowledged as a critical dimension of both.
Finally, sanitation has become a burning topic in its own
right, and action worth its own policy and funding.
Unfortunately, many efforts have focused on water-based
sanitation as the ultimate solution which, in practice, has
only increased or intensified water-related problems in
many areas of the world. Therefore, there is an urgent need
to broaden thinking and look beyond the conventional
systems: centralised and water-based sanitation systems
alone cannot solve the sanitation crisis. Decentralised,
integrated on-site and ecological approaches are needed
also in urban and peri-urban areas. Since water supply and
sanitation are inherently integrated and equally important,
they also relate to land use and land-related resources. The
overall system operates in a rather broad framework which
has to do with public health, natural and built environment,
agriculture, soil and water management, and socio-cultural
and economic issues.
Objectives and methodology
This paper summarises the findings from the 2
Dry Toilet Conference 2006 (DT2006), held 16–19 August,
2006 in Tampere, Finland. There were 147 registered
delegates from 34 countries who participated in the seven
sessions of the international programme, and a 100
participants attending the additional Finnish-language
sessions. The main objective of this paper is to publicise a
range of research and real life experiences dealing with an
uncommon subject: dry sanitation. This, it is hoped, will
encourage further dialogue on sanitation options and
policies. The literature review also supports the main
objective although it must be admitted that the number of
serious scientific articles on dry sanitation appears extremely
limited. The complete Conference-related documentation
is also available on line at http://www.drytoilet.org/dt06.html
and at http://kirjasto.tpu.fi/DT2006.pdf.
Conceptualising dry sanitation
Ecological sanitation
Public and private toilets are known to have existed in
ancient cities, and the productive use of human excreta is
not new. Waste disposal is as old as civilization. Sijbesma
(2006) cited a well-known story of the Emperor Vespasian
(Rome, 69–79 BC) who levied a tax on the sale of urine
from public toilets for the production of wool and leather,
and silenced his critics by his remark: Pecunia non olet
(money does not smell) (Sijbesma, 2006). Yet serious
scientific research on toilets does not have equally long
roots. Water is popular as a subject of research and a
metaphor, while toilets have inspired neither researchers
nor artists, philosophers or folklorists. Rather, toilets have
been despised and subjects relating to their use avoided as
a taboo. In many cultures the caretakers of latrines are often
considered the lowest class of people. Furthermore, in poor
residential areas, the social status of tenants was determined
by their location: the further one lived from the toilets, the
higher the status (Juuti and Maki, 2006).
Ecological sanitation (ecosan) has its roots in ancient
times when both human and animal excreta were valued as
a fertiliser. Ecosan is a way of thinking, an approach and a
new philosophy, rather than just a technology per se. As
such, the concept is embedded in the Integrated Water
Resource Management (IWRM) framework. The Global
Water Partnership (2000) defines IWRM as “a process
which promotes the coordinated development and
management of water, land and related resources, in order
to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an
equitable manner without compromising the sustainability
of vital ecosystems.” (Global Water Partnership 2000, p.
22), paying attention to downstream vulnerability to
upstream activities. It further calls for integrating water and
wastewater management but does not pay attention to
sanitation specifically and, therefore, to the options of
producing no or only a minimum amount of wastewater. In
essence, sanitation belongs within the IWRM framework,
but as was acknowledged by Werner during her conference
presentation, the mainstream debate on IWRM still focuses
on water resources, ignoring to a large extent ‘land and
related resources’ and the option of minimising wastewater.
Encouragingly, though, the Global Water Partnership
DT2006 conference sessions
The conference sessions in the international programme:
Session 1: From past to future
Session 2: Architecture & Construction
Key note : Andreas G. Koestler – Sanitation for Life
in Natural Disasters
Session 3: Attitudes & Advocacy
Key note: Ron Sawyer – A tale of two systems:
Obstacles & incentives for implementing ecological
sanitation in a periurban town, Tepoztlán, Mexico
Session 4: Separation & Re-use,
Key note: Joachim Behrendt – Appropriate de-central
wastewater technologies for low income regions
Session 5: Dry Toilet Technology & Monitoring,
Key note: Naoyuki Funamizu – Dry toilet: An important
system for controlling micro-pollutants from our daily life
Session 6: Integrated Approaches
Session 7: Sustainability & MDGs,
Key note: Christine van Wijk-Sijbesma – Where softness
matters most: scaling up dry toilets in developing countries
(Sessions F1 to F3: Finnish language session - separate
See: Korkeakoski et al. 2006a and 2006b

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Land Use and Water Resources Research 6 (2006) 4.1–4.9
© Venus Internet
has also recently paid more attention to sanitation. Rees
(2006, p. 31) identified the advantages of a successful
decentralised approach to sanitation: it is demand-responsive
with services tailored to local conditions; it allows a wider
range of technical options to be used; it minimises free rider
problems; it allows phased investments; and it clearly
differentiates between the private and public good segments
of the sanitation service and shares the financial burden at
different geographical levels.
Ecosan could contribute to IWRM in a number of ways.
It has vast potential in areas such as saving drinking water,
protection of water bodies, reduction in health risks, soil
fertility, reduction in costs, use of grey water or wastewater
for irrigation, and flood protection (Werner et al., 2006a).
Ecosan is based on three fundamental principles: (i)
preventing pollution rather than attempting to control it
afterwards,( ii) sanitising urine and faeces, and (iii) using
the safe products for agricultural purposes. This approach
is characterised as ‘sanitise-and-recycle’ and essentially
aims at closing the loop (Winblad and Simpson-Hébert eds.
Note that ecosan is not necessarily dry, but that in the
best case scenario dry sanitation (DS) falls within the
ecosan framework (Fig. 1). For further detailed conceptual-
isation, see Winblad and Simpson-Hébert (Eds, 2004),
WASTE (2006) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische
Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) (2006).
Dry sanitation
Dry sanitation (DS) is embedded in ecological sanitation.
Its technological manifestation, the dry toilet (DT), is part
of on-site systemswhere safe disposal of excreta takes place
on or near the housing plot. DS can be defined more
precisely as on-site storage and/or disposal of human urine
and faeces without the use of water as a carrier for flushing.
The most modern version of DS enables, in a controlled
environment, potential recovery and reuse of the nutrients
through the ‘drop-and-store-and-sanitise-and-reuse’
approach which the ‘drop-and-forget’ approach applied to
traditional pit latrines did not allow. A DS system creates a
controlled environment into which, by definition, no water
should be added. The authors of this paper suggest that
further processing and utilisation of the end-product as a
fertiliser or in other uses conceptually falls within the
ecological sanitation framework, and therefore these issues
relating to agriculture and soil management are excluded
from the DS framework. Thus, the operational word in the
definition above is ‘potential’: The nutrients in the DS end-
product can be recovered and reused (Fig. 1).
The technological alternatives available in DS are the
various versions of dry toilets (DT). Traditional on-site
systemshave typically included pit latrines and septic tanks.
Of these two most typical on-site solutions, the pit latrine is
the one closest to DT. Pit latrines are known as relatively
low cost options, consisting of a superstructure which
affords privacy to the user, a hole or a seat set into a slab
which covers the pit, and a pit beneath the slab into which
excreta and anal cleansing materials are deposited. The
ventilated improved pit latrine (VIP latrine) is intended to
make the system more convenient and safe for the users. Pit
latrines are not used in conjunction with conventional flush
toilets. Only a relatively small volume of water enters the
pit, and liquid is allowed to seep from the pit into the
surrounding ground. Under fairly dry conditions excreta in
the pit decomposes into humus-like solids, water and gases.
Because of the long storage time in the pit, disease-causing
organisms (pathogens) are eventually killed (Sanitation
Connection, 2006). Yet, in most situations, the pits are
rarely emptied and what takes place in the pit is rather
uncontrolled. If the culture favours anal cleansing with
water or the pit can be flooded with surface runoff, pit
latrines will soon become anaerobic nuisances. Excess
liquid seeping into the ground can also contaminate ground
water in many geo-hydrological conditions. Indeed, pit
latrines have given composting toilets and other forms of
Figure 1
Definition of dry sanitation within the ecosan framework.

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Land Use and Water Resources Research
Land Use and Water Resources Research 6 (2006) 4.1–4.9
© Venus Internet
DTs a bad name.
DT options can be roughly divided into those that divert
the substances, usually urine and faeces, and those which
do not. Liquids can also be separated at a later stage, and
some applications allow using water for anal cleansing and
diverting this flow away entirely from the rest of the
substances. Urine diversion is based on the fact that urine
contains most of the nutrients in domestic wastewater but
makes up less than one percent of the total wastewater
volume. Separation of urine at source allows nutrient
recycling from a concentrated nutrient solution, thereby
reducing the need for advanced nutrient removal from the
wastewater (Wilsenach and Van Loosdrecht, 2004, in
Maurer et al., 2006). Maurer et al. (2006) distinguished
between seven main purposes of urine-treatment processes:
hygienisation (storage), volume reduction (evaporation,
freeze–thaw, reverse osmosis), stabilisation (acidification,
nitrification), P-recovery (struvite formation), N-recovery
(ion exchange, ammonia stripping, isobutylaldehyde-diurea
precipitation), nutrient removal (anammox) and handling
of micro-pollutants (electrodialysis, nanofiltration,
ozonation). Their recent review revealed that a wide range
of technical options is available to treat collected urine
effectively, but that none of these single options can
accomplish all seven purposes (Maurer et al., 2006). This
definition of dry sanitation underlining the opportunity for
closing the nutrient loop by treating and reusing the end
product safely takes DS into the context of ecosan: re-use
is within the domain of ecological sanitation.
Results: reflections from the conference
Research and development
The conference sessions gave a holistic view into the
benefits, weaknesses and open questions related to research
in dry toilet technology. Attention was paid especially to
separate collection and treatment of urine and faeces. The
first step in solving the pollution problem is to separate the
various substances and flows (Fig. 1). Urine separation
reduces significantly the ammonia losses from the dry toilet
compost, and at the same time urine can be used for other
purposes than just diluted fertiliser. Divert and rule’ applies,
meaning that urine should be diverted/separated from faeces,
and various waters be kept separate as dry faeces are much
easier to treat: “dry toilet material should be dry”(Behrendt,
2006). This was highlighted for instance in astudy conducted
in Japan concerning the hygienic risk associated with
compost toilets using sawdust as matrix. It was found that
high temperature and low water content enhanced the rate
of decrease in populations of both bacterio-phages and
bacteria, emphasising the importance of keeping dry toilets
dry (Otaki et al., 2006).
The risk of spreading diseases is real but not necessary
very high if the composted faeces and urine are correctly
used. Normally, urine is almost sterile and the risk of
spreading diseases is low. In the tropics, however, there
might be a risk of spreading dangerous diseases, such as
schistosomiasis. Long-term storage destroys most possible
disease causing agents in urine. Microbiological health
risks are, however, not the only health and hygiene issues
to be considered. There also micro-pollutants such as
pharmaceuticals and oestrogens (endocrine disruptors)
which concentrate in urine. The research group from
Hokkaido University recommended source separation of
urine as a solution to controlling the increasing level of
pharmaceuticals and hormones in the aquatic environment
(Funamizu, 2006). As an example, they found that the
degradation rate of amoxicillin was strongly related to the
ammonia concentration in the demonstration plant, and
since phosphate and ammonia accumulate in the composting
toilet matrix, it can be expected that the more the toilet is
used, the faster the reduction in amoxicillin (Kakimoto and
Funamizu, 2006).
Several growth experiments examined the use of urine
alone, urine and composted faeces, or faecal compost alone.
The results show clear increases in yields when sufficient
amounts are used at the right time. Results with maize,
cucumber, carrot and barley were good, and further research
with cabbage and potatoes was under way. The amount,
time and method of adding fertiliser should, however, be
carefully considered to provide a good yield safely (Viskari
et al., 2006; Heinonen-Tanski, 2006; Guzha, 2006). Urine
should not be sprayed onto the plant but over the soil.
Different plants and trees need a slightly different procedure,
and if there are any concerns about safety, non-edible
plants, light construction materials and fibre plants should
be fertilised instead. Generally, the health risk is very low
when urine is used for fruit trees rather than for rootcrops.
The food is very rarely eaten without any processing, and
the processing destroys many pathogens (Heinonen-Tanski,
There are other uses for separated urine as well. It can
be used to treat green composts, such as straw and corncob,
to balance the C/N ratio and to irrigate composts as needed.
For example, in Thailand, corncob composts, which require
additional N to work properly, are irrigated. Re-using urine
instead of water for moisture content adjustment is
recommended to provide additional nitrogen for composting
(Songthanasak, 2006). On the other hand, urine has been
found to act as a source for P recovery as struvite. Tilley et
al. (2006) concluded that the storage of urine is an essential
step in recovering struvite, and that by removing calcium
and other non-desirable compounds and allowing the pH to
attain an ideal working range naturally, only magnesium
needs to be added to recover a pure struvite product. Further
examples of case studies presented during the Conference
are summarised overleaf. The reader is encouraged to
download the Abstract Book for further study (see
Korkeakoski et al., 2006b).
Construction and architecture matter
Architecture and construction technology will be of utmost
importance should dry toilets ever become as desirable and
convenient an option as the present water closet systems.
The Conference called for more research and real life
applications of various designs: both ‘branded’ high tech
designs and low cost options are needed. Whatever the
design, it should comply with the local requirements: cultural,
social, ecological and economic realities are as varied as
climatic and geo-hydrological environments. Kuria (2006)
stated that architecture continuously evolves to reflect
changing ecological thinking, material development and
changing lifestyles, but that unfortunately sanitary facilities
have received very little attention. In many countries
craftsmen develop, package and market the products.
An ecosan pilot project in Nakuru town in central Kenya
aimed to highlight the ecological, technical and economic

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© Venus Internet
South Africa: More than 40 000 dry toilets have been supplied as basic sanitation facilities in South
Africa. The research showed that most of the users accepted the urine diversion toilets as a toilet
only, but that their acceptance as a sanitation technology was very low and people still expected to
eventually have flush toilets. Only a few users were willing to use the human excreta in their
gardens, or generally have anything to do with it. The general norm of not handling human faeces
is preventing the full implementation of the UD technology. (Duncker, 2006)
Zambia: Madimba is a Lusaka peri-urban area where local dry toilet design was developed to fit
into the given geo-hydrological conditions and cultural environment through paying attention to the
perceived needs of the communities and indigenous knowledge. It was concluded that integrated
community-based environmental sanitation projects should include income generating activities to
encourage people to participate. It was noted that most of the voluntary labour was done by women.
(Kawanga and Phiri, 2006, Session 1)
Mexico: theresearch project in Ciudad Juárez included monitoring 90 composting latrines in a low-
income peri-urban community utilising US-EPA guidelines for the end product. The double vault
provided clear separation and more room for the urinal but increased costs and space. The
dehydrating system was consistently the better choice over the biodegrading system in this study
area (very hot desert area, good for dehydration). A research component included also a study on
hygiene behaviour, and paid attention to hand washing. The research process had also a strong
component for community participation, focusing especially on the youth and general public
awareness concerning health, hygiene and sanitation. Users were satisfied with their latrines.
(Barud-Zubillaga, Corella-Barud and Peña, 2006, Session 7)
Romania: double vault dry urine diverting (u. d.) toilets were constructed in a primary school to
demonstrate how to improve sanitation, the health of the children and to protect ground water
against infiltration of human waste in an affordable way. A year after the implementation the
evaluation results showed that the dry urine diverting toilets were well accepted and operated by
even 6–10 year old children. There were hardly any problems with bad odours or flies. A gender
specific pattern was observed: women preferred ecosan toilets while men preferred water flush
toilets. More than half of the interviewed citizens were willing to use the urine diverting toilet
products for agriculture. They all complained about the odour and flies of their pit latrines. (Samwel
and Gabizon 2006, Session 2)
Mexico: The study covered 75 dry toilets. Of all observed toilets, 67 per cent had no odour and 79
per cent had a generally clean appearance. Sixty per cent did not use the urinal even if it was
installed, and 51 per cent did not follow the maintenance recommendations. Twenty-four per cent
of the ‘negative’ cases suffered from technical problems, such as broken or blocked pipes, five per
cent had turned the structure into a cistern and another five per cent had not finished the construction
at all. The chamber had been filled at least once in 48 per cent of the cases, and 92 per cent considered
using the contents as fertiliser. In terms of pathogens, the end products were more than just
acceptable. It was suggested that the great resistance may have socio-cultural roots. (Ysunza-
Ogazón et al., 2006, Session 3)
United Kingdom: the project with the Beacon Hill Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Society, in
Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, aimed to provide an ecological construction within the commercial
limitations of a commercial build. As a result, the allotment holders have a building that is
interesting both in its purpose and construction. The sanitation facility has made the site more
accessible to women, the disabled and the elderly, and it has encouraged the uptake of allotments
on the site. The dry toilet gave people an opportunity to test the dry toilet technology and understand
its purpose. The construction company learned valuable lessons in ecological design and construction
while providing important vocational training for disadvantaged youth. (Gilroy-Scott and Chilton,
2006, Session 2)
Source: Korkeakoski et al. 2006a and 2006b
value of ecological sanitation through a high quality
architectural design. The design was geared primarily to
evolve a ‘modern mixture’ concept to improve sanitation’s
image, to support entrepreneurship and to strengthen
environmental linkages. Attention was paid to the different
needs of women, men, children and the disabled. The
facility for the disabled was constructed considering three
types of users: the visually impaired, wheelchair users and
those with missing limbs or paralysed. The facility was also
designed to strongly portray the imagery and identity of
Nakuru town, with sculptures depicting the flamingos of
Lake Nakuru in the rock garden and mounted on the internal
façade of the entrance lobby wall (Kuria, 2006).
China has a long and vibrant ecological sanitation
tradition. The China-Sweden Erdos Eco-Town Project
transferred the practices still common in rural areas into an
urban context. This was the first time urine diversion dry
eco-toilets have been applied to large scale multi-storey
buildings in an urban area. The project area comprises
about 800 households in its first phase. The community has

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its own independent sanitation system (source separation
and collection of urine and faeces, separate grey water
treatment, sorting and collection of solid waste, composting
and reuse of the resources). It is expected that daily water
consumption can be cut by about athird while providing 24-
hour reliable and sustainable sanitation service. In addition
to its environmental benefits, the housing system also aims
at resolving the housing problem of mid- and low-income
people (Lixia, 2006).
GTZ, the German cooperation agency, has recently
been renovating its headquarters in Eschborn, Germany.
The new office buildings include a modern system for the
separate collection and reuse of urine and a treatment and
reuse system for brown water. The central part of the
building, housing about 300 employees, the conference
rooms and the restaurant, is equipped with a urine separation
system. It is expected that the system will save 900 m
water yearly. The project had four main objectives, including
(1) reduced emission of nutrients, organics, pathogens and
micro pollutants such as pharmaceutical residues and
hormones into the public sewer system and receiving water
bodies; (2) recovery of nutrients for agricultural use; (3)
demonstration of the ecological sanitation concept and
contribution to international dissemination; and (4) research
on important aspects of ecological sanitation systems in
Germany and development of treatment technologies
(Werner et al., 2006).
Dry sanitation in emergencies
Sanitation has an essential role to play in emergencies. It is
the first barrier between the possible pathogens (in excreta)
and the receptors (human beings). The importance of safe
excreta disposal is heightened by an oft-forgotten
consequence of living in chaotic surroundings, namely
stress-related diarrhoea. The local population and
organisations are the primary actors in disasters, and the
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can empower the
local stakeholders and provide feasible solutions and
equipment to different scenarios and conditions.
The real life example from Iran showed how rapid
action was crucial to prevent spread of diseases: although
the environmental health staff arrived in Bam in less than 24
hours, people had already begun to defecate in various open
areas, thus endangering public health (Amin, 2006). He
further noted that even rapid action should not override
cultural considerations: large refugee camps were built but
people preferred to stay close to their homes.
Another example dealt with a refugee camp in Sudan
where it was found that lack of appropriate sanitation is
only one of a multitude of problems that prevail in a refugee
camp. It was emphasised that a refugee camp forms a
dynamic entity which is not even meant to be permanent;
therefore, any attempts to build permanent infrastructure
are futile. Dr Koestler from the Norwegian Red Cross noted
that sanitation services can best be improved by integrating
public health services with infrastructure rebuilding to be
able to cope with future disasters. This could reduce hygienic
risks after a disaster and reduce vulnerability of communities
in the long run. Dr Koestler called for innovativeness in
using local resources and materials, and trained, well-
functioning sanitation teams to tackle the sanitation problem
from the beginning (Koestler, 2006). The challenge for
developing sustainable and appropriate sanitation systems
for crisis situations is diversity and uncertainty: it is difficult
to get financing for a catastrophe which has not yet happened.
Discussion: to dry or not to dry – is there
a problem?
DS is based on long traditions of managing human urine
and faeces. At the same time, it also represents something
novel for those already used to urinating and defecating into
water closets or in traditional ways of using ‘the bushes’. In
many parts of the world both of these prevailing practices
are challenged by the sheer number of people, water scarcity
and pollution problems. Yet, even if DS were theoretically
and conceptually well developed, it would still be a challenge
to apply it in diverse climatic, geo-hydrological,
environmental, socio-cultural and economic conditions.
Due to a lack of experience and the confidence it could give,
it is difficult, for instance, for local leaders and national
policy makers to take DS seriously. Failed sanitation systems
are difficult to hide.
Sanitation is about dignity, convenience, public health,
clean water and healthy environment, and general well-
being of the citizens, all of which are issues and concerns
for local planning and local governance. A definition states
that “water governance refers to the range of political,
social, economic and administrative systems that are in
place to develop and manage water resources, and the
delivery of water services, at different levels of society”
(Rogers and Hall, 2002, p. 16). We would like to emphasise
that a similar definition should be formulated for sanitation
governance as it relates to protection of public health and
safety, environmental protection, user participation, gender
and equal opportunities, cost efficiency and effectiveness
of performance, financial sustainability and transparency,
and overall accountability. Many of the sanitation-related
problems identified during the conference are related to
Sanitation should be a public concern and advanced
with public resources even if the facilities as such may be
private property. Keeping the environment healthy and
sanitary is certainly a citizen’s obligation as well as a right.
As sanitation is a very local and even a household-specific
dilemma, local government should provide the institutional
frame of reference where these interests could be articulated
and translated into action. To derive the full benefits
sanitation can offer, all households must participate. The
only option is to systematically work towards full coverage,
and this is where local governments as community planners
truly step in (Rautanen, 2006). The importance of
developments in infrastructure planning and housing design,
in addition to continued DT-related product development,
were also acknowledged by Mattila in his recent doctoral
research. Mattila (2005) called for attention to the quality of
activities at all stages: design, contracting, construction,
control, operation, maintenance and repair of on-site
sanitation systems – with special emphasis on the DT.
During the conference a number of present challenges
were identified, including issues such as lack of integrated
vision, capacity and commitment at the local government
level. It was noted that decisions concerning the water and
sanitation sectors are often dominated by political interests
and financial concerns which may not be in the best interest
of the people and the environment nor sustainable. Key
decision-makers are also often unfamiliar with alternative
solutions which is why the official sector is not willing to

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invest in research of ‘unconventional’ systems.
Sustainability was also debated during the conference.
The findings of a number of case studies relating to the post-
construction status of dry toilets exposed two key reasons
for poor sustainability. Firstly, technical problems
originating from initial poor construction using low quality
construction materials. Secondly, there was a general lack
of sense of ownership which was reflected in inadequate
operation and maintenance: the users’ had not chosen the
technology and/or did not consider the sanitation facilities
a priority. Countless toilets, both dry and otherwise, have
been abused, abandoned or transformed into something
more useful, such as storage facilities or even kitchens! The
question is: how can something ‘so simple’ be so difficult
to make and maintain? More financial data are also needed:
what is promoted as low cost should truly be so!
During the conference it was noted that people can have
unreasonable wants and needs, or just too high expectations
for the sanitation solution. These can easily lead to
disappointment. The importance of human perceptions,
beliefs and attitudes for the success of ecological sanitation
is evident, and a proper approach for managing — not
manipulating — them positively towards sustainable
solutions is vital. Ecological sanitation education and training
should give people the ability to develop, plan and implement
sustainable sanitation systems that are hygienically safe,
socially acceptable, economically feasible, environmentally
sound and technically appropriate, and convenient to use.
To achieve this we need to modernise current educational
and training systems to inspire all stakeholders. Trans-
sectoral and interdisciplinary co-operation and inputs from
a range of research fields and well-designed educational
materials are of great importance in securing successful
education, training and capacity building.
Conclusions and recommendations – the
dry future
Based on the findings presented in connection with the
DT2006 conference, we recommend that all our fellow
sector professionals:
Continue their serious and systematic research, also in
the real life context. Even if a number of pilot research
and demonstration projects have been carried out, more
research is needed, including a strong advocacy and
educational component to help inspire (political)
confidence to commit to DS.
Emphasise sound technical design, good workmanship
and durable materials. Cheap and poorly constructed
options are not sustainable, and therefore, not cheap at
all. Negative experiences undermine sanitation
improvements in general, whether dry or not. Failed
efforts in sanitation are difficult to hide!
Make it their aim to bring DS technology to the same
level of convenience as the water closet systems now
provide. Sustainability and tailor-made products need
community involvement and listening to the real users,
but also an enabling environment from the local planners
and decision makers.
Always ensure that the recommended options are safe
from the public health point of view. To make faecal
material hygienically safe, thorough thermal composting
and/or after treatment or storage are needed – there are
rarely shortcuts. It is also important to pay attention to
timing and the type of plants being fertilised: the health
risk is very low when urine is used for fruit trees rather
than for root crops.
Dare to suggest urine diversion toilets also in urban
areas. Urine has high concentrations of both nutrients
and such micro-pollutants as pharmaceuticals and
oestrogens (endocrine disruptors). All these are difficult
and costly to remove through conventional wastewater
treatment processes and, therefore, are found in
increasing concentrations in the aquatic environment.
Strive for long term monitoring of the existing pilots as
there is a need for more real life performance data which
spans several years into the ‘post-programme’ period.
Anything will work as long as there are enough academics
and committed local professionals involved, but what
happens when the latrine owners are left to themselves?
Replication, local adaptation and scaling up of lessons
learnt remain limited. Good practices should be
institutionalised in each community as a standard code
of practice, similarly to flushing the flush toilet now.
Do systematic cost and value analysis in a real life
context: which are actually the low cost but high quality
and sustainable options? What is not proven to be truly
low cost, should not be advocated as such!
Search for new institutional settings. DS as a
decentralised option calls for innovative approaches to
private sector involvement to ensure the necessary
technical services: it should not be expected that
individual house owners are willing to maintain the
systems themselves or have an interest in gardening.
Step outside their sanitation and ecosan circles and dare
to approach other sectors (water, public health,
environmental, social), and actively seek to integrate
the principles of ecosan into, for instance, the agricultural
and energy sectors.
Actively contribute to policy and political dialogues at
all levels in search for solutions to the sanitation crisis.
It is politically difficult to commit to unconventional
options if there is no reliable, first-hand experience
from their real life performance: therefore experiences
have to be effectively shared!
Consider what are the incentives for sanitation
improvements at various levels, from the national policy
level to local action level. This calls for an enabling
environment and good governance, a system where a
positive outcome can be fed back into the broader
Remember that incentives and other drivers for change
are community-specific, even within one country or
region. Small, tangible and sustainable steps are needed
in each to show the direction.
Financial support from Academy of Finland (210816) and
Maj & Tor Nessling Foundation is gratefully acknowledged.
The authors wish to extend their warmest regards to all key
note speakers, delegates, chairpersons, rapporteurs and
sponsors for making the DT2006 a successful and fruitful

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