Decentralized Sustainable Sanitation Experience 2015

by Susan Mercer | Aug 29, 2016

Dr Santiago Septian Stringel in Bolivia (26th October to 6th November 2015)

Dr. Santiago Septien Stringel was invited as an exhibitor to the “2nd Meeting on Decentralized Sustainable Sanitation Experience”, held in La Paz, Bolivia, on the 4th and 5th November. The event, organized by the Dutch development organization SNV, aims at sharing experiences in the context of Bolivia about decentralized sanitation, wastewater treatment, solid waste management, water supply and climate change. 

Santiago provided an international perspective on how sanitation is managed in the eThekwini municipality. He emphasized the cooperation between the municipal government, local research institutions and international partners in order to improve sanitation services through implementing solutions based on scientific studies. An overview of the projects conducted in the eThekwini municipality were presented, as well as the outlook for sanitation in the near future.

Prior to the conference, some field trips were organized for Santiago, in the region of Santa Cruz, by one of the members of the SNV Bolivia, Raul Silveti. These included:

  • 26th of October: A visit to the compost centre from a local university (UGRAM) was undertaken, where a pilot plant was installed by Water For People for the pasteurization of faeces from UDDTs using a hot steam. This step is done prior to faeces vermicomposting. A hydrocyclone reactor was also installed for struvite recovery from urine. After the visit of the centre, a meeting was held with the Dean of Agricultural Sciences (Mr. Juan Benigno Ortube), an engineer from Water For People (Jesus  Alberto Yutronic), the technical staff from the plant and Raul Silveti.
  • 27th of October: A visit was undertaken to the cooperative COSMOL which manages water and sanitation issues from the community of Montero. A meeting was held with the members of COMSOL and SNV (who work in partnership), in order to explain the sanitation situation in Montero. After the meeting, a visit was conducted to the local treatment centre where a pond has been installed to treat wastewater, and a confined site for burial of faeces from UDDTs is under construction. A laboratory for waste analysis and monitoring of the treatment process is being built in-situ. At the end of the journey, a visit was undertaken to a peri-urban area of Montero where UDDTs have been installed by the SNV under the management of COSMOL.

A field trip to the region of El Alto was also organized by SNV for all conference participants in the on the 6th November.

Firstly, a visit was undertaken to a treatment centre for urine and faeces from UDDTs, managed by the NGO “Sumaj Huasi”. The waste comes from UDDTs installed by the NGO in the rural areas of El Alto. The urine is stored in tanks for 6 months and then used as a fertilizer. The faeces are treated by vermicomposting for a year, and then the product is pasteurized prior to agricultural use. Pasteurization is done by heating the material within a LaDePa machine adapted from that developed by the eThewkini municipality, in Durban, South Africa. The heat for pasteurization is provided by burning natural gas, an inexpensive resource in Bolivia.

A second visit was undertaken to the University of El Alto where several research programs are conducted on agriculture, forestry, farming, solid waste management and wastewater treatment. The most relevant research projects to the PRG include: development and testing of wetlands and biofilters for wastewater treatment; composting and vermicomposting of solid waste; and  biogas production from manure.

During his stay in Bolivia, Santiago also provided advice to Bolivian sanitation practitioners on improvements to prototypes for excreta treatment and laboratory analysis methods. A great interest in the PRG activities was shown by many local institutions, and in particular the SNV Bolivia is potentially interested in collaborating with the PRG and eventually receiving assistance (training and advice) in establishing a laboratory specialising in analysing sanitation waste.

Field visit in an academic research centre, in El Alto

Wastewater treatment by biofilters


Visit of toilets in the region of Santa Cruz