PRG's Travels

Santiago in Mexico

by Susan Mercer | Aug 31, 2016

Dr. Santiago Septien Stringel in Mexico (March to June 2015)

Santiago spent some time in Mexico from March to June 2015. During this time, he visited several academic institutions in order to give seminars aimed at raising interest and awareness on sustainable sanitation with Mexican students and to inform them about the research acitivites at the PRG.  Seminars were held at the following institutions:

  • Institute of Engineering from the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
  • Institute of Ecotechnologies from the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
  • University of Guanajuato (where the coordinator of Chemical Engineering Department was very interested in sending students to the PRG)
  • Technological Institute of Irapuato
  • University of Puerto Escondido
  • Sanitation practitioners at the group SARAR-T and BORDA Mexico.

During his visit to the University of Puerto Escondido, Dr Santiago Romero (a contact from Chris Buckley) invited Santiago to meet with municipal authorities who were interested in dry sanitation systems but didn’t have any background knowledge of such systems. A field trip was organised to visit the beach zone where dry toilets were installed without proper planning and where there are now problems related to the disposal of the waste. Another field trip was undertaken to the rural areas where toilets from the households are connected to septic pits. As this practice can cause pollution of the local river, the municipality would like to install dry sanitation systems.

During the meeting with the municipal authorities, Santiago provided them with some guidelines for the design of dry toilets, suggestions on the management required for the sustainable use of the toilets and possible disposal methods for the waste at a low cost (storage of urine, composting of faeces and solar drying). Santiago emphasized that the university should support the implementation of these toilet systems, as agriculture and composting are one of their areas of expertise, and that they should also undertake monitoring of the toilets. Santiago also proposed some basic analyses that should be conducted on the toilet waste such as ash analysis, moisture content, nutrient analysis, Ascaris content, and coliform tests.

Presentation during the YWP conference in Guanajuato

On-site sanitation facility in the rural area of Guanajuato

Seminar in the Ecotechnology Institute in Morelia

Visit to toilets in the beach zone of Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Unimproved pit latrine in the mountainous area of Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca