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Emergency Sanitation Project competition

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Appropedia has partnered with the Emergency Sanitation Project for promotion and knowledge sharing of sanitation in emergenies. The Emergency Sanitation Project is a collaboration between IFRC, WASTE and Oxfam GB to solve some of the most difficult challenges with providing sanitation in emergencies.

Introduction[edit]

For those affected by natural disasters, provision of sanitation is one of the most essential lifesaving activities that can be carried out. Disposing of human waste is complicated under the best of circumstances. When standard pit latrines are not feasible in emergency response due to ground conditions, user preference, or land dispute, sanitation becomes exponentially more complicated. Put simply, the human waste has to go somewhere.

Safe excreta disposal in an acute emergency is largely an unexplored area of emergency response equipment development. Humanitarian agencies are approached weekly with offers for “new” technology for emergency water supply and treatment, but receive few or none concerning the improvement of emergency sanitation services. Recent emergency response operations in Haiti, Pakistan and the Philippines highlighted the challenges with emergency sanitation (no pit latrine or septic tank option, high water tables, flooding etc), and the expected increase of urban disasters illustrate the urgent need to provide more options for sanitation in challenging environments.

As part of the Emergency Sanitation Project (ESP), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is launching a student design contest to source new designs for the safe disposal of human waste. It is hoped that the contest will provide the humanitarian community with new ideas and ways of working in order to tackle a critical problem. We also hope to influence the next generation of engineers to focus on the critical challenge of sanitation, both in emergency response and long term development.

The Problem[edit]

Design a system to enable the safe disposal of the human waste collected from latrine pits and septic tanks serving populations between 15 to 20’000 people. Assume 2 litres of human waste per person per day with a 15% solids content. Larger objects may be included in the waste. Assume an open and flat area of about 100 m x 70 m is available for the system and that operation is carried out in a temperature range of 10 - 40 degrees centigrade.

The system should be simple and inexpensive to operate, rapidly operational and be transportable by cargo aircraft. As this is a sytem for the acute emergency phase, the final effluent quality does not need to be high. Anything which reduces the harmful impact of the sludge (including odour, destruction of aquatic life, algae blooms, disease outbreaks, etc.), even a small amount, is welcome. Sludge volume reduction is ideal but not a necessity. Batch or continuous flow treatment and the use of chemical consumables are acceptable. The design should specify the approximate number of staff and the power source necessary for operation as well as an estimate of the running costs (excluding staff salaries). Additional design specifications are included in the application form.

Designs may be modular (i.e. equipment working in parallel in order to be scalable) but the judging criteria (including cost) will be applied at the scale of 15 to 20,000 people.

Designs should assume a centralized design, where waste is collected from a network or individual latrines by vehicle or pipeline and delivered to a dedicated treatment location. The collection system need not be included in the design.

Design entries may focus on part of the problem of safely disposing human waste in emergency response (e.g. large solid removal); however, the highest scoring responses will be those that address a complete solution.


Judging Criteria[edit]

Entries will be scored on six criteria

  • Feasibility in emergency
  • Speed of installation
  • Capital cost
  • Operation and maintenance requirements and cost
  • Originality
  • Cost of transport

Tips on a successful entry[edit]

  • The more likely the design is able to be carried out to production the higher it will score. Relying on expensive or unproven technology will result in an unsuccessful entry.
  • Have a well-defined, easy-to-understand design that the judges can grasp easily. Include clear schematics and descriptions of installation, operation, and maintenance processes.
  • Focus on solving the problem of human waste in emergency rather than potential side benefits such as use of sludge for agriculture or the production of biogas for energy. Aspects unrelated to reducing health risk and nuisance will not be considered in the scoring.

Award Ten projects will be selected for final review. These ten semi-finalists will present their design concept to the judging panel.

The two selected finalists will each be awarded an internship, including travel costs to internship location, daily stipend, and accommodation costs for three months, for one person in IFRC’s Geneva Headquarters or an IFRC field office.


Eligibility[edit]

The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students in Bachelors, Masters, or Ph.D. programmes worldwide during the 2013 fall or 2014 spring terms. Entrants must be able to demonstrate that they are enrolled in a certified higher education program during the 2013 fall or 2014 fall terms.

Targeted fields of study: Civil or Environmental Engineering and related disciplines. Students from other disciplines are welcome to apply as well.

Due to the nature of the award for the top two finalists, submissions must be from individuals.

Timeline[edit]

Application forms must be received by 12:00 pm GMT Monday, 3 March 2014. Winners will be announced on April 4, 2014.

How to Apply[edit]

For all the application details and terms and conditions, see the contest page on the Emergency Sanitation Project website.

Disclaimer[edit]

This page is to promote this contest to the Appropedia community. Appropedia is not involved in any of the running of the contest. However you are welcome to pool ideas and collaborate on designs here on Appropedia.