UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


Developing Impact Research on Container-based Sanitation Risk Assessment

Container-based toilets (CBS) offer alternative sanitation solutions to traditional pit latrines and ventilated improved latrines, especially in informal high density urban settlements.

1 September 2017

CBS systems are waterless systems that collect and aggregate faecal and urine waste from multiple individuals for various waste processing modalities. Numerous studies have established that a lack of and poorly-managed sanitation has negative impacts on human health, due to increased exposure to pathogenic micro-organisms in human excreta. There is limited evidence of health risks associated with CBS systems, given the infancy of these solutions. Paradoxically, this type of sanitation is used in canal boats in London.

Since its launch in February 2016, this research has started impacting the worldwide sanitation community working on sanitation safety plans (SSP) and CBS business. Fieldwork is being conducted with a range of CBS contexts in Kenya and the UK (both completed). Fieldwork will extend to Haiti and India in early 2018.

In April 2017, Luiza Campos and PhD researcher Eve Mackinnon organised and hosted a Sanitation Community of Practice (SanCoP) workshop at UCL which explored the context, challenges and safety of exposure of CBS. Guest speakers included representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO), CBS Alliance, Loowatt and Sanitation First.

In July 2017, Luiza Campos presented on ‘ContainerBased Sanitation: a solution for high water-table areas?’ at the third Afriwatsan workshop organised by the University of Nairobi in Kisumu, Kenya. PhD student Eve Mackinnon was awarded a UCL Beacon Bursary to run a public engagement event exploring the use and operation of CBS on canal boats in central London. This took place in July 2017.

The researchers collaborate with top researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG) in Lausanne, Switzerland, to develop quantitative models of exposure risks in CBS using a Micro-level Activity Time series methodology (MLATs) developed by EAWAG researchers. In September 2017 Eve Mackinnon developed content-specific material and supported the delivery of SSP training for WHO.