Centre for Aquatic Environments

News and events from the Centre for Aquatic Environments

CAE and the World Toilet Day!

Tomorrow 19th of November is World Toilet Day (https://www.worldtoiletday.info/)!

This year’s theme is ‘Making the Invisible Visible’, raising the awareness of the link between poor sanitation and faecal pollution of groundwater sources. We face a global sanitation crisis. Today, 3.6 billion people are still living with poor quality toilets that ruin their health and pollute their environment. Inadequate sanitation systems spread human waste into rivers, lakes and soil, contaminating the water resources under our feet. Safely managed sanitation protects groundwater from human waste pollution. Everyone must have access to a toilet connected to a sanitation system that effectively removes and treats human waste.

Fittingly, Centre for Aquatic Environments researchers Prof. James Ebdon and Dr Diogo Trajano Gomes da Silva are involved in an exciting Global Challenges Research Funded (GCRF) project led by Prof. Lyla Mehta from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at Sussex University. The project “Towards Brown Gold” seeks to re-imagine sanitation in rapidly urbanising areas in Asia and Africa to help address the sanitation crisis, enhance off–grid economies and improve the well-being of poor and vulnerable women and men, and marginalised communities such as Dalits, migrants, sanitation workers and refugees. In response, this innovative project combines social science, law, engineering, microbiology and creative arts, to address the challenge of sustainable and safely managed sanitation in rapidly growing ‘off-grid’ urban areas of Nepal, India, Ghana and Ethiopia.

The UoB team recently returned from fieldwork (see photos below) in the town of Gulariya, situated in Southwest Nepal, where they worked alongside Nepalese researchers Prof. Sabitri Tripathi (Nepal Engineering College), Dr Dhundi Raj Pathak (Tribhuwan University), and a Nepalese Master’s student to investigate the relationships between poor sanitation facilities and contamination of groundwater sources. It was a successful field visit, during which the team visited, collected, and analysed water samples from groundwater sources (handpumps from shallow wells), used by 33 households. Communal drinking water sources and in-house water treatment technologies were also assessed. Results are currently being analysed and will serve as the basis of a peer-review article as well as precious information that will be fed back to the local authorities and communities visited.

Watch this space for future updates from the BrownGold project

And have a wonderful World Toilet Day!








Figure 1. Prof James Ebdon and Prof Sabitri Tripathi collecting a water sample from a handpump in Gularyia (Nepal)

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Suzanne Armsden • November 18, 2022

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