A rise of the sanitation economy boost payable and sustainable services for improved sanitation. Financial institutes need to recognise more the potential value of pee and poop as a source for biogas and nutrients. That was the key message at the Sarphati Award workshop that was attended by the award winners Sasha Kramer of SOIL and Abhijit Banerij of Finish.

The day prior to the workshop, both winners received the Sarphati Sanitation Awards during the Opening Ceremony of the Amsterdam International Water Week on 30 October. Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam, Alderman Udo Kock, handed out the Sarphati Sanitation Life Time Achievement award to Sasha Kramer and the Young Entrepeneurs Award to Ahijit Banerji.

dws-aiww2017-sarphati-old-new-350pxThe 'old' and the 'new' Sarphati: Doctor Samuel Sarphati (right) came in from the afterlife and met the award winner of 2017 Sasha Kramer of SOIL.

Exemplary work
The Jury decided to award Sasha Kramer (middle on top photo), who founded SOIL in 2006, for her exemplary work to provide sustainable sanitation services in Haiti, with an approach they considered to be replicable in many other situations, especially in fast growing peri-urban areas.

This year’s Sarphati Sanitation Award for Young Entrepreneurs, went to Mr Ahijit Banerji (seond left) of FINISH Society for his work as financer of sanitation and health projects in India.

On shoulders of giants
At the workshop Sasha Kramer reminded the attendants that the Amsterdam general practitioner Samuel Sarphati had already discovered the economic potential of faeces and urine some 150 years ago. As true entrepreneur, Sarphati had the faeces collected and applied as the fertilizer to crops on his estate and brought fruit and vegetables back to Amsterdam for the benefit of his patients.

According to Kramer today’s entrepreneurs in the field of sanitation, including herself, build their success on the shoulders of giants such as Sarphati.

However, there is still much to be done, Kramer said, referring to the 2 billion people in the world that still lack access to a clean toilet.

dws-aiww2017-sarphati-workshop-350pxTwo awards winners, Banerji (right) and Kramer (second right) joined the AIWW workshop on sanitation.

Unsafe facilities
Kramer told that many sanitation projects involve the construction of a centralized sewage system, or the construction of pit latrines in homes.

‘Neither meet the needs’, said Kramer. ‘and both lead to unsafe situations. In homes there is hardly space of a latrine and often the faeces are dumped just outside the settlements, leading to soil degradations.’

The disadvantage of a centralized sewage system is that there is hardly water to flush the system. And in case of extreme rainfall, the systems are vulnerable to floods and uncontrolled spreading of pathogens.

Kramer advocated Container-Based Sanitation (CBS) services using dry toilers that are specially designed for informal urban settlements and allow the transformation of the waste into valuable end-products, like SOIL’s organic compost.

Huge market potential
Award winner Ahijit Banerji mentioned the need to raise the awareness of the people living in the slums. ‘Our organisation Finish, focusses on the finance of sanitation services in India. For us it is important to aggregate demand for proper toilets and vendors that want to transport and handle the sludge’.

Finish realised 600.000 clean toilets in India since it started in 2010. ‘We see a huge market for sanitation’, Banerji said, ‘and social impact bonds can enable us to attract investors. However, we still concentrate on smaller towns where we understand the sanitation and waste markets better. The circumstances in big cities are too complex’, Banerji said.

Read also on this website
AIWW 2017: Rain triggered fish passage wins Wetskills young professionals challenge, 6 November 2017
AIWW 2017: Ambitious coalitions want to realize new breakthroughs in the world, 3 November 2017
AIWW 2017: Sasha Kramer of Soil to receive Sarphati Sanitation Award 2017, 11 October 2017
AIWW 2015: Award winners Salttech and Safi Sana honoured during opening ceremony, 3 November 2015

More information
Amsterdam International Water Week

Aqua for All

World Waternet