Threats of the future vision of utilizing human excreta in energy generation
This article reflects challenges which might prevent the future vision “Human excreta to biogas and fertilizer” come true. Please see the linked vision.
Like discussed in the future vision, biogas toilets could offer an answer to many problems. They give availability to energy, improve the situation of arable land by offering environmental friendly fertilizer and nutritional composting material, protect the limited water resources from pollution and more importantly decrease the demand of water as dry toilets do not need water for flashing.
However, there are many difficulties when promoting new ideas and ways of living. Traditional beliefs and life-style, religion or the cultural point of view in the social status between men and women can heavily affect to projects to realize. As I have discussed in one of my previous articles, local culture has to be respected.
When it comes to sanitation projects, in some cultures even discussing about human waste is inappropriate and of course also utilizing human waste is not socially acceptable. So the challenge is how to get people’s attention and assure there is nothing wrong with utilizing excreta for creating energy or as a agricultural fertilizer. Project needs to find some local people who have enough enthusiasm for the project and authority to be the ambassadors and role model for others. The tasks can be really difficult.
Secondly, other thing that has to be considered is the fact that in many countries men and women are not equal. Men and women have different kind of social statuses. Ensuring participation of both sexes can be tricky because of knowledge of language, literacy and in terms of mobility. Still both sexes should be taken into account in order to get the best results.
Finally, in developing countries people often migrate to urban areas rather than solving the challenges in water or food scarcity, sanitation etc. in rural areas. They probably think that everything is better in the city. However, migration often makes the situation even worse. So the challenge is how to assure people that their life conditions depends mainly of their own actions and with quite small steps they can improve their own life in rural areas. They do not need much financial support or equipment as they might think. For example separation of wastes and composting could be a great start. The only missing thing is knowledge and that knowledge they can get if only they want to listen.
Research question: What problems could occur in sanitation projects in developing countries?