On going research
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.
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).
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
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. 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.
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.
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.