Reducing the human and environmental cost of growing cities
In poor countries growing cities are putting pressure on water and land resources, making it more difficult for millions of poor farmers to eke out a living. At the same time, public sectors are struggling to keep up with the waste accumulating in urban areas. The Recovering and Reusing Resources in Urbanized Ecosystems research theme develops solutions that capitalize on waste to reduce the damage from growing cities to communities and the environment.
Solutions for a growing sanitation problem
Although the potential value has been known for years, few previous attempts to reuse resources from waste in agriculture have been successful in the long run. However, significant quantities of water, nutrients and energy can be recovered from domestic and agro-industrial waste materials, including food waste and wastewater. Reusing waste can reduce pollution, improve sanitation, enhance food security for millions of poor households and support green economies. WLE is working with a wide range of partners to develop viable sanitation solutions that harness a potential environmental disaster to provide jobs and environmental benefits. [Read more]
Exploring business avenues for human waste reuse
"An enormous development opportunity exists to convert human waste into a resource that can benefit millions of poor farmers while providing cost recovery incentives for reducing the world's most pressing sanitation problem" -Pay Drechsel, leader of WLE's RRR program
WLE has examined dozens of case studies on the reuse of human waste and wastewater and started testing the feasibility of some of the most promising business models in 10 cities across the globe. Furthest along is a public-private partnership model to turn fecal sludge into fertilizer pellets that started in Accra, Ghana. The product, which underwent field tests in northern and southern Ghana, is in the process of being trademarked as Fortifer. The trials showed that cabbage and maize yields were as high with Fortifer as with the use of an inorganic fertilizer.
Innovative, market-driven business models will help reintroduce water and energy back into the production cycle, making the use of resources more efficient. [Read more]
A new vision for waste, and the future
The Resource Recovery and Reuse research theme aims to change the ways waste is seen and used by analyzing, evaluating and promoting new solutions. Such solutions are expected to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses, cut the use of chemical fertilizers and improve the health of farmers and city dwellers.