Posted: May 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

Today is Menstrual hygiene day – a subject that is not talked about in most cultures and has devastating effects on women of all ages (see below for some of the challenges). To help break the silence, people around the world are standing up to share voice their thoughts and support. Show your support by posting a picture on the Menstration Hygiene Day site.


People from the Department of Energy and Technology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences voicing their views.

Information below is from http://menstrualhygieneday.org/

The Challenge

  1. In India, 66 % of girls-only schools do not have functioning toilets.
  2. 83% of girls in Burkina Faso and 77% in Niger have no place at school to change their sanitary menstrual materials.
  3. 32.5% of schoolgirls from South Asia had not heard about menstruation prior to menarche and an overwhelming 97.5% did not know that menstrual blood came from the uterus.
  4. In Sierra Leone, girls who are normally active classroom participants sit in the back because they worried about emitting an odor or leaking through their clothes while menstruating.
  5. A study at a school in Uganda found that half of the girl pupils missed 1-3 school days a month, or 8-24 school days a year.
  6. UNESCO estimates that 1 in 10 African girls miss school during menses, eventually leading to a higher school drop out rate.
  7. In Ghana, girls miss up to 5 days a month attributed to inadequate sanitation facilities and the lack of sanitary products at school as well as physical discomfort due to menstruation, such as cramps.

The Good News

  1. A Ghanian study found that girls’ attendance increased substantially after receiving free sanitary pads and puberty education.
  2. Many NGOs & social businesses are making enormous progress on delivering menstrual hygiene education, like designing fun and games-based curricula that engages both boys and girls.

Menstrual Hygiene Day serves as a neutral platform to bring together individuals, organisations, social businesses and the media  to create a united and strong voice for women and girls around the world, helping to break the silence around menstrual hygiene management.

  • Menstrual Hygiene Day will help to address the challenges and hardships many women and girls face during their menstruation, but also to highlight the positive and innovative solutions being taken to address these challenges.
  • The day catalyses a growing, global movement that recognizes and supports girl’s and women’s rights and build partnerships among those partners on national and local level.
  • It is an opportunity to engage in policy dialogue and actively advocate for the integration of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) into global, national and local policies, programmes and projects
  • It creates an occasion for media work, including social media.

References: 1. UNICEF Soap Stories, 2012. 2. UNICEF, Menstrual Hygiene in Schools, 2013. 3. Dasgupta &  Sarkar, Menstrual Hygiene: How Hygienic is the Adolescent Girl? 2008. 4. Caruso et al., WASH In Schools Empowers Girls Education in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2013. Report on Rural MHM, 2011. 5. The Netherlands Development Organization/ IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre: Study on menstrual management in Uganda 6. Africanews, Sanitary Towels for Kenyan Teenage Schools Girls,  2011. 7. IBID. 8. Montgomery et al., Sanitary Pad Interventions for Girls’ Education in Ghana, 2012. 9. See www.menstrualhygieneday.org/partner


SuSanA on Flickr 2010 manual bucket-emptying

Image from SuSanA on Flickr 2010 manual bucket-emptying


This article gives you insight to what human waste management is like without sewers. This is why so many of us are working towards designing better on-site-sanitation systems. Please read: Fecal Sludge Sourcing Series: The Forgotten Public Health Heroes

A fun video by UNICEF to get people to poo in the loo in India – as about 48% of India’s population practices open defecation – that’s >65 million kilos of pooh every day…


From the website  (www.poo2loo.com/about-the-campaign.php):

”Close to 594 million which is 48 per cent of population in India practices open defecation.

If this poo continues to be let loose on us, there will be no escaping the stench of life threatening infections, diseases and epidemics.

Think about it. Half the population doesn’t use a toilet while the other half of the population accepts it. We simply accept India as it is. We are part of the issue, part of the acceptance.

So, if you give a shit about this issue, then don’t just scrunch up
your nose and walk away.”


Hilarious product available. But really everybody poohs…

Video  —  Posted: May 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

Fun article from The Atlantic: San Francisco Wants You to Fall in Love With Its Sewer System

San Francisco Wants You to Fall in Love With Its Sewer System

World Toilet Day!

Posted: November 19, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,
World Toilet Day (worldtoiletday.org)

World Toilet Day (worldtoiletday.org)

It’s World Toilet Day. This is the day to realize how good some of us have it – we take a pooh in a porcelain bowl and with a push of a button we never have to smell it again. More importantly, it is a day to acknowledge that a large portion of the world does not have this luxury and in fact many people die every year due to faecal contamination. Of the seven billion global humans, 4.1 billion are discharging sewage into the environment without treatment, resulting in environmental degradation and adverse human health effects (Baum et al., 2013).

The goal of sanitation is to reduce the burden of disease and illness-related expenditure, improve water quality, and ultimately result in a higher quality of life (SACOSAN, 2008). Adequate sanitation is defined by the United Nations (2008) as having access to sanitation facilities that isolates the excreta from human contact  (includes pit latrine, latrine with slab; and composting toilet). Unimproved sanitation facilities are flush toilets that are not connected to a sewer, latrine without slab (open pit), bucket, hanging toilet and having no access to facilities (UN 2008).  The delivery of safe and effective sanitation services includes infrastructure (e.g. latrines, sewers), associated behaviors (e.g. toilet usage, hand-washing) and an enabling environment (e.g. public health regulations, fiscal incentive schemes for achieving sanitation outcomes) (SACOSAN, 2008). Currently, 2.6 billion people live without adequate sanitation based on the above definition (Baum et al., 2013). But of the 4.3 billion people using toilets connected to a sewer, 1.5 billion people still have their waste not treated (Baum et al., 2013).  Globally, it is estimated that 64% of people are dumping raw sewage into the environment without treatment (see figure) (Baum et al., 2013).

The difference between sewage connections without end treatment and connections with sewage treatment in 2010, by country income group (Baum et al., 2013).

The difference between sewage connections without end treatment and connections with sewage treatment in 2010, by country income group (Baum et al., 2013).

Contaminated water from inadequate waste management (human excreta, organic and inorganic solid and liquid) results in the spread of diseases and environmental degradation (Baum et al., 2013, Gandhi, 1998, Government of India, 2006, SACOSAN, 2008). The meagre sanitation conditions occurring in developing countries have been directly correlated as one of the leading causes of infant mortality, as well as impacting early cognitive and motor development and undermining educational achievement (SACOSAN, 2008). 

Poor sanitation has been recognized as both a global issue and a global responsibility, and was included in the Millennium Development Goals (Mutagamba, 2003). The 2015 Millennium Development Goal for access to safe drinking water is currently on target, but the sanitation target will be missed by 1.9 billion people (Baum et al., 2013).  The global sanitation situation has been labeled “the silent crisis” since more resources are directed to other, more attractive sectors than sanitation, such as water, health and education (Drangert et al., 2012). Sanitation should be a basic human right, but instead it is used as a means to divide social classes (Mutagamba, 2003). For those with financial means, flush toilets are a luxury that is expected; however, at the other end of the spectrum, finding a safe place to squat is a daily conundrum. Access to adequate sanitation is not only about health but necessary for maintaining personal dignity (UNICEF, 2008).


Over the centuries, the resources and technology available to manage human waste products have changed and so have the objectives, e.g. from avoiding stepping in faeces, to controlling smell, to complying with municipal effluent laws (Drangert et al., 2012). The principle of isolating faeces to avoid human contact and to avoid the contamination of drinking water has remained the same over the centuries but, with increased population density, more sophisticated methods of isolation and treatment have been required (Drangert et al., 2012).

As hygiene habits  and local cultural practices differ globally, designing and providing sanitation systems is not a simple fix. Cultural issues around hygiene practices include the feeling of intrusion on a private/personal issue and superstitions, such as believing that toilet use may lead to fertility problems (Mutagamba, 2003). Flush toilet are still seen as the gold standard around the world (Drangert, 2003), signifying class and wealth so that even in water-stressed areas, such as South Africa (Republic of South Africa, 2011), people want flush toilets. Such inclinations need to be taken into account when trying to improve access to adequate sanitation.

Want more info about World Toilet Day, check out:



BAUM, R., LUH, J. & BARTRAM, J. 2013. Sanitation: A Global Estimate of Sewerage Connections without Treatment and the Resulting Impact on MDG Progress. Environmental Science & Technology, 47, 1994-2000.

DRANGERT, J.-O. Year. Requirements on sanitation systems – the flush toilet sets the standard for ecosan options. In:  International Symposium on Ecological Sanitation, 2nd, 2003 Lübeck, Germany.

DRANGERT, J.-O., SCHÖNNING, C. & VINNERÅS, B. 2012. Sustainable Sanitation for the 21st Century [Online]. Available: http://www.sustainablesanitation.info/m3.php [Accessed January 10 2013].

GANDHI, R. 1998. Water and Sanitation – A Baseline Survey. Indian Institute of mass communication New Delhi: Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission.

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA. Year. A movement towards total sanitation in India. In:  South Asian Conference on Sanitation, 20-21 September 2006 2006 Islamabad, Pakistan. Government of India.

GRIFO, F. & ROSENTHAL, J. 1997. Biodiversity and Human Health, Washignton, D.C., Island press.

JÖNSSON, H., STINTZING, A. R., VINNERAS, B. & SALOMON, E. 2004. Guidelines on the Use of Urine and Faeces in Crop Production. EcoSanRes Publication Series. Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute.

KING, F. H. 1911. Farmers of Forty Centuries; Or, Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan, Project Gutenberg eBook.

MUTAGAMBA, M. Year. Ecosan – what kind of advocacy is needed. In:  International Symposium on Ecological Sanitation, 2nd, 2003 Lübeck, Germany.

REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA. 2011. World Cup Legacy Report: Water [Online]. Republic of South Africa. Available: http://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/water.pdf [Accessed February 12, 2013].

SACOSAN 2008. Sustaining the Sanitation Revolution – India Country Paper. In: DEPARTMENT OF DRINKING WATER SUPPLY & MINISTRY OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT (eds.) SACOSAN III. New Delhi: Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission.

TIDAKER, P., MATTSSON, B. & JONSSON, H. 2005. Environmental impact of wheat production using human urine and mineral fertilisers – a scenario study. Journal of Cleaner Production, 15, 52-62.

UNICEF. 2008. India: Water, Environment and Sanitation [Online]. United Nations. Available: http://www.unicef.org/india/wes_209.htm [Accessed January 23, 2013].

WHO & UNICEF. 2008. Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: Special Focus on Sanitation [Online]. World Health Organization

UNICEF. Available: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/monitoring/jmp2008.pdf [Accessed February 12, 2013].

WINBLAD, U., HEBERT, M., CALVERT, P. & MORGAN, P. 2004. Ecological sanitation, Stockholm environment institute.

As most of you know, I like toilets. And my team of colleagues and I, here in Sweden, have entered a competition to design a urinal for emergency situations (waste.nl/en/design-contest) – the urinal has to be quick to put up and easy to use. Ours is called the Sani-Dash and is designed Sani-Dash: urinal for emergency situationsspecifically for women.

Please vote today at waste.nl/en/design-contest
(ours is the Sani-Dash, but obviously vote for the best!)


Thanks for you all your support – we tied for first!