Development of a Field Laboratory for Monitoring of Faecal-Sludge Treatment Plants

Development of a Field Laboratory for Monitoring of Faecal-Sludge Treatment Plants

In urban or camp humanitarian-aid settings, faecal-sludge treatment is of utmost importance. Regarding the public-health aspect, the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti can be considered as one of the worst examples of failed faecal-sludge treatment. The impact of untreated faecal sludge released in the environment is quite dramatic and may result in algae blooms, pest problems, and over-fertilization of fields.

Faecal Sludge treatment processes and decision-making tools for field use in humanitarian aid are currently being developed and the importance of the regular monitoring of Faecal Sludge treatment plants is stressed in the literature. However, field-ready analytical equipment for process and public health monitoring was still missing.


The assignment: a need for field-ready analytical equipment for process-control and public health monitoring
To close this gap, the Microbial Sludge Quality project 2016 – 2017 was funded by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund to develop a field lab for the Public Health and Process Monitoring of Field Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants. We were asked to support the development of this field lab and the implementation of the pilot.
Humanitarian-aid organizations were defined as the primary target group. During the project duration, a secondary target group consisting of social enterprises, development-cooperation organizations and local utility operators were involved.


What we did

Together with the Austrian Red Cross, as the project consortium’s humanitarian-aid organization, and its contacts in the emergency WASH community, the following design criteria for the field laboratory were developed:
• Appropriateness: the analytical results are comparable to a fixed laboratory
• Applicability: the laboratory must work in the field
• Affordability: the laboratory has to be more cost-effective than standard solutions
• Mobility: the laboratory has to fit in a Toyota Landcruiser


Read more on this programme
The programme aims to maximise sustainability through collaboration between public and private actors, including local governments, Women Farmers Groups or Producer Groups, agri-marketing company, Micro Finance Institutions and faecal sludge operators. This approach is essential to realise successful market-based Faecal Sludge Management and to make the business case of co-compost site viable.
• Development of a Field Laboratory for Monitoring of Fecal-Sludge Treatment Plants article
• Preparing to be Unprepared
• Speedy Sanititazion and Stabilization Mission Report