Department Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development
Management of Excreta, Wastewater and Sludge (MEWS)
The research group Management of Excreta, Wastewater, and Sludge (MEWS) addresses solutions for city-wide inclusive sanitation (CWIS) through applied and fundamental research, design and optimization of treatment technologies, development of analytical and monitoring methods, and training and reference materials. The goal of city-wide inclusive sanitation is equitable, safe, and sustainable sanitation for everyone. The development of management solutions for the entire service chain are essential to fulfill the sanitation needs of urban areas, including containment, collection, transport, treatment, and resource recovery, and will vary depending on the associated infrastructure. Access to safely managed sanitation can be achieved through the implementation of a range of appropriate technologies tailored to the realities of rapidly growing cities, with integrated combinations of sewered and non-sewered, off-grid, and decentralised and centralised technologies. One third of the world’s population currently relies on non-sewered sanitation, predominantly in low- and middle-income countries, with only a fraction safely managed. There is an urgent need to find immediate solutions to bridge this gap, while in parallel researching more globally relevant and sustainable solutions for the future.
Faecal sludge (FS) is defined very broadly as what accumulates in onsite sanitation technologies and specifically is not transported through a sewer. It is composed of excreta, but also anything else that goes into an onsite containment technology, such as flushwater, cleansing materials and menstrual hygiene products, greywater (i.e. bathing or kitchen water, including fats, oils and grease), and solid waste. The importance and need for faecal sludge management (FSM) has been recognised worldwide, with rapidly occurring developments. Other possibilities for non-sewered sanitation include community scale solutions, emergency and humanitarian settings, and even co-treatment with sewered sanitation. Off-grid solutions include the reinvent the toilet challenge, in-building treatment in urban areas, and on property treatment in rural areas. Non-sewered sanitation can provide more sustainable options, however, there are major gaps in fundamental, scientific knowledge, applied research to scale-up solutions, standard methods for monitoring, design, and analysis, and reference materials. To address these gaps, our research has a focus on development of innovative but practical and reliable solutions, along with the resources that will allow practitioners to integrate management solutions into city-wide inclusive sanitation.