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Ecological Sanitation: 'MIRACULOUS’ TIGER TOILET'

posted Nov 13, 2014, 11:33 PM by Nantege Ashabrick

Uganda is faced with many sanitation challenges one of which is lack of appropriate technological options especially for people in areas with high water table and rocky grounds (Kakuru & Batega, 2010). In such places, pit latrines cannot provide an adequate sanitation solution because they either collapse or the rocky ground makes it very hard and expensive to excavate pits (ATC, 2011). The national sewer system caters for only 6.4% of the urban population (MWE, 2013). Amidst, the wave of urbanization has led to people living in small plots of land where they cannot afford to construct a latrine twice. They therefore construct harmful hanging toilets, which are often opened and release untreated sludge in the environment. Other undignified sanitation options commonly used include ‘flying toilets’ and open defecation (Isabel et al, 2011). Access to safe sanitation is a human right and therefore, people need toilet solutions that provide safety, comfort and protect the environment.

Ecological sanitation has for over a decade been promoted in Uganda to bridge the technological gap. The tiger Toilet is an addition to the ecological sanitation menu. The Appropriate Technology Centre for Water and Sanitation, Water for People, Oxfam International, PriMove India under the overall coordination of Bear Valley Ventures Limited UK are undertaking research to profile the viability of the Tiger Toilet as a safe and sustainable sanitation solution. This research is concurrently carried out in Uganda, India and Mymnar. The Tiger Toilet experiments in Uganda were set up in February 2014; with demonstrations constructed in three villages i.e., Buguju, Ngandu and Kigombya all in Mukono district. These facilities are under close monitoring with monthly analysis of influent and effluent samples. This exercise will go on for at least one year however; pit filling and emptying may take more than 2 years. 

Point of Use water Treatment Technologies: A case study of the Three Picther Water Filter

posted Nov 13, 2014, 10:59 PM by Nantege Ashabrick   [ updated Nov 13, 2014, 11:18 PM ]


Access to safe water, a golden human development indicator is challenged by daily human activities i.e., pollution attributing to deposition of wastes in form of excreta, domestic refuses and waste water into water sources (Ridderstolpe & Palmer Rivéra, 2007). In Uganda statistics indicate an increasing trend in contamination of water sources with facial coliforms (MWE, 2014). Apparently, failure of over 42% of water supplies in small towns and 47% in rural areas to comply with the national bacteriological standards for drinking water is attributed to contamination by open defecation, seepage of waste water, poor drainage and deep pit latrines (ibid, 2014 & Isunju et al, 2013). Given that a fairly large big population in the country survives below poverty line, they cannot afford wood fuel, electricity or gas to boil water before drinking. They therefore drink the water without prior treatment and end up suffering from communicable diseases. Intestinal worms and diarrhea are reported to be amongst the top 5 causes of morbidity in Uganda (MWE, 2012). 

Appropriate Technology Centre for Water and Sanitation (ATC), the research arm for Ministry of Water and Environment is piloting low cost point of use water treatment technologies that can be used by the population segment that cannot afford costly means of treating drinking water. To this effect, the Three Pitcher (THREP) filter is being piloted in Kiwebwa village, Nabbaale Sub County, Mukono district in attempts to optimize access to safe drinking water. The THREP filter is a low cost technology made of three pots that are placed above each other, half filled with a filter mechanism (layers of sand, charcoal and gravel), working on principles of biosand filtration (Megh Pyne Abhiyan, 2006). If used properly, the THREP promises a reduction in lead, benzene, TTHMs (Total Trihalomethanes), Iron and microbial (Dean et al, 2010 and International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies, 2008).

Testing the Tiger Toilet in Mukono District

posted Apr 17, 2013, 1:58 AM by Nantege Ashabrick   [ updated Mar 17, 2014, 2:12 AM ]

The tiger toilet is one of the ecological sanitation toilets. It is a specially designed 
pour flush toilet that uses tiger worms to breakdown faecal sludge into compost. This is a new technology in Uganda being studied by ATC in partnership with Water for People and Bear Valley Ventures Ltd, UK at an international level. The tiger toilet is being tested in three villages i.e., Bugujju, Ngando and Kigombya in Mukono district.

Equity and Inclusion WASH Technical guide

posted Apr 17, 2013, 12:14 AM by Nantege Ashabrick   [ updated Apr 17, 2013, 7:07 AM ]

ATC and WaterAid partnered to carry out a project aimed at mainstreaming access to WASH by, among other activities, producing a technical guide. This project is based on the premise that access to WASH is a human right and that the conventional design of facilities does not cater for some minority groups of people in society such as the disabled, elderly, little children, chronically ill, menstruating women to mention but a few.  The first phase of this project included consultations with key stakeholders in the wash sector, desk study and literature review and technical audit of sampled households and institutions.

Results indicate that; some of the identified factors responsible for the inequitable access to WASH services include; the absence of regulation or policy, utter insensitivity, dominance of private sector players in WASH sector, perceived minority of marginalized groups and the lack of best-practice models to emulate.

The identified panacea to the plight of marginalized groups in WASH lies in the increased sensitization of the masses in order to increase awareness and concern, popularizing of universal model inclusive designs, modification of existing facilities and constant supervision and inspection of new designs. 

Using WADI indicator to enhance effectiveness of Solar Disinfection (SODIS) for purification of drinking water

posted Apr 17, 2013, 12:05 AM by Nantege Ashabrick   [ updated Apr 17, 2013, 6:56 AM ]

SODIS technology is apparently used for purification of drinking water among the rural poor communities of Uganda. Evidence of technology application is at the water school in Kisoro. If well administered, the technology could provide a remedy for enhancing the safety of drinking water without reliance on wood fuel, expensive electricity and gas[1]. Though used in some parts, the technology has remained unknown in most parts of the country. Besides, there is scanty information on its effectiveness. The available data is basically studies from outside Uganda and their findings are double fold.

For example, studies in Kenya indicated potential for SODIS to reduce prevalence of water related diseases (Graf et al, 2008 & Conroy et al, 2001). The health impact study carried out on 7 treatment communities and 4 control communities for a period of one year indicated that in Bolivia illness such as diarrhea did not drop despite the wide adoption of SODIS[2].

The observed failures of SODIS technology in other countries cannot be taken binding for Uganda. The causes of failure are not explicitly indicated and this gives room for speculations.  There are a number of factors that can compromise the effectiveness of SODIS technology. For example, it cannot be effective with rain. During rains, even if bottles are put out for disinfection for a full day, the process cannot be completed due to absence of the sun. Old, scratched, blind and colored bottles are not advised to be used for solar disinfection because of their low UV-transmittance.

Despite the adaptation of SODIS technology in some parts, there is hardly any evidence documented to support promotion of the technology in Uganda. There is a need for laboratory based evidence of the potential of this home-based water treatment method to purify water for drinking.

[1] Tamas & Mosler (2009).

[2] Ma¨usezahl, et al  (2009)

Ecological Sanitation for public institutions

posted Dec 9, 2012, 11:26 PM by Nantege Ashabrick   [ updated Mar 17, 2014, 2:50 AM ]

We a re currently studying the Urine Diversion Dry Toilet (UDDT) and Composting toilets to demystify ecological sanitation for public places -institutions. Ecological sanitation is the best way to protect our environment however, prior promotion indicates technology at institutional level. The task is thus to study the operation and maintenance, design and suitability of current designs. The study is going on at St. Joseph's Hospital Kitgum and Kauga Prison, Mukono district.

Scaling up rainwater harvesting in Uganda

posted Dec 9, 2012, 11:20 PM by Nantege Ashabrick   [ updated Mar 17, 2014, 4:38 AM ]

Uganda as a country gets is endowed with abundant rainfall, where most parts receive double maxima. However, the practice of rainwater harvesting has remained minimal partly due to high capital cost for rainwater tanks, inadequate technologies and poor quality of harvested water. Up on this background, ATC carries out research to address the persistent challenges and catalyze practice scale up. Current research is focused on coming up with an appropriate first flush system which will enhance the quality of harvested rainwater and low cost rainwater harvesting technologies. One such technology that has been research on is the EMAS tank and Pump.

Removal of iron from ground water: A systematic study on selected iron removal plants in Uganda.

posted Nov 2, 2012, 2:13 AM by Nantege Ashabrick   [ updated Mar 17, 2014, 5:57 AM ]

Uganda is one of the iron rich countries, with some parts having as high as 50mg/l  concentrated in ground water.Iron is a troublesome element in water supplies and  Efforts to manage the problem have involved the installation of iron removal plants (IRPs) on one hand, and the conversion of U2 pumps to U3 Modified pumps coupled with chlorine dosing. 

The research seeks to;

i)  Investigate the interaction of  water with the source rocks 

ii) Examine and document the various attempts made with regard to iron removal

iii) Make improvements on existing designs and provide a framework for sector actors on managing iron in groundwater 

iv) Explore possibilities of technology diffusion into communities.


Graduate Training

posted Apr 17, 2012, 1:18 AM by Nantege Ashabrick   [ updated Feb 10, 2014, 5:38 AM ]

ToR for Internship placements at the Appropriate Technology Centre for Water and Sanitation (ATC) Mukono

The ATC recognizes university students  and fresh graduates as key contributors to research although their capacity may not be sufficient. If well guided and exposed to the required research tools and approaches, students are in position to contribute to research while at the same time they acquire the necessary training required higher job placements. Internship placements exposes students to practical experience that they may not get at University and prepare them for work after school. The ATC therefore takes on student interns annually who are placed according to the available opportunities. Our broad research areas include:

           1. Rainwater harvesting
           2. Improving small scale farming using drip irrigation
           3. Ecological sanitation
           4. Iron removal from water for domestic use

NB:graduate trainee has to have passion for applied research beyond sitting in offices and should also have positive traits and employability skills. A trainee can be attached to one of the ongoing projects based on their specialization and may be asked to take part in any other on-going activities of the centre.

The trainees may be seconded by the Ministry of Water and Environment or come directly to the centre. Trainees applications should be supported by the University faculty/department in which they studied. Acceptance of secondment will be based on availability of running programmes at the centre to which trainees will be attached.

Trainees with background in the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

·         Engineering

·         Public Health

·         Agriculture

·         Social Sciences

·         Environmental Studies

Gender balance is highly recommended.

ATC provides the necessary tools for the training but does not provide any allowances or payments to the students as it does not have a budget for the internships. Trainees are therefore asked to solicit for financial support from elsewhere. However, in cases where trainees are required to travel upcountry, arrangements are made to provide for their travel costs.

posted Apr 12, 2012, 5:55 AM by Nantege Ashabrick   [ updated Apr 12, 2012, 6:07 AM ]

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