Unsafe Return of Human Excreta to the Environment

sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
There is need to track human excreta beyond their initial deposit in toilets through to their final return to the environment, to ensure that the population is properly protected from the diseases spread by this waste. The Water Institute team, in collaboration with the University of Alabama and with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will develop and pilot approaches for international agencies and countries to (1) estimate the fraction of human excreta unsafely returned to the environment, and (2) estimate where in the sanitation chain this occurs.

The work is intended to inform the expected Sustainable Development Goal Target to reduce the amount of human excreta unsafely returned to the environment. The “global scorecard” for excreta management developed will assist governments, funding agencies and development agencies to address progress and the need for improvement more effectively, both from an improved understanding of the situation, and from the clearer insight into the global situation.

Water Institute Researchers and Staff

Pete Kolsky – Co-Principal Investigator
Jamie Bartram– Co-Principal Investigator
Ashley R. Williams
Alycia Overbo
Jackie Wallace

Call for Feedback

We have conducted a review of peer-reviewed and grey literature to examine the unsafe return of human waste from pit latrines, septic tanks, and sewerage across the sanitation delivery chain. We invite WaSH professionals and practitioners to read and share feedback on the review, which can be accessed through our publications page.


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