A digital guide and decision-making tool for communities to deploy and use waste-to-value technology for agricultural use of waste
Indian farmers value untreated cattle dung as fertilizer, yet human and animal excreta are often considered waste rather than resources. Safely treated human excreta can potentially offer a valuable resource by enhancing soil organic matter and providing nutrients to crops. The taboos related to these topics mean that people do not easily engage in the utilisation of human excreta as a resource. Further, the current incentives do not provide support for a circular economy that would entail the recovery of resources from sanitation to agriculture. Potential benefits of such a circular economy could include energy, water, and food security, improving both health and environmental quality. Currently, chemical nutrients pollute communities and aquatic environments, undermining both environmental and human health. Conventional fertilizers and even manure is also economically inaccessible to low-resource farmers without direct access to sufficient livestock or funding for purchases. Chemical fertilizers further have a negative climate impact in terms of manufacture and transport. On the other hand, lack of sanitation and nutrition contributes to disease and growth impairment in communities.
At multiple sites we will:
1. Identify potential pathways to success, as well as ecological, cultural, social, health, economic and policy barriers to implementation of existing and hypothetical W2V technologies converting human excreta to agricultural use.
2. Use existing technologies to develop a scalable W2V strategy to convert excreta for agricultural use that considers a range of issues from primary collection, aggregation, transformation, and utilization to be applied to different communities.
3. Establish a deployment and assessment system that raises awareness and considers community needs, training, and livelihood opportunities.
4. Measure and monitor developmental indicators, as well as relevant parameters such as: water and nutrient conversion and potential impacts on groundwater, soil quality, ecosystems services, wildlife, and other ecological and environmental parameters at the different sites to adjust W2V model accordingly.
5. Generate a clear revenue and resource streams for agricultural use of waste coupled with knowledge of a scalable circular economy framework that incorporates development opportunities, health issues, social and cultural challenges, and positive climate action.
1. The results would help us identify what scale of data acquisition can become a framework to check the effectiveness of W2V approaches. The aim behind obtaining such a framework would be identifying empirical issues that can link extensive regions to landscapes in space and time. Such a framework would also impact policies due to wider applicability that can be locally enhanced.
2. In the form of a policy tool, the objective achievement would benefit from multiple alternatives to preclude "all or none" approach towards W2V implementation.
3. Can provide a linkage between sanitation outflow and agricultural inflow to simultaneously contribute to environmental and human health concerns.
4. Provides a centralized solution to contribute to health, environmental, and economic opportunities for communities - links food security, biosecurity, economic security, and climate resilience.