Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation / University of Technology Sydney / Emory University / London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine / The World Bank Group / Sanergy / SNV / Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor / Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit

Faecal waste and its mysterious movement through urban ecosystems

Tuesday 28 August | 16.00-17.30 | Room: NL 461

In cities throughout the developing world, human faecal waste has massive impacts on human and ecosystem health. But urban sanitation investments are rarely based on ecosystem-level understanding of the flow pathways of faecal contaminants, faecal pathogens and faecal nutrients, or of the complex relationships between ecosystem health and human health. This session will bring together key researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to consider how urban sanitation design can take better account of the mysterious ways in which faecal constituents move through urban ecosystems. Recent research around faecal flow pathways will be presented, and form the basis for discussion around implications for policy and practice. For example: are we putting too much faith in septic tanks, which leach liquids to the immediate environment? Can container-based sanitation solutions offer a useful way forward? Are sanitation specialists paying sufficient attention to the wider ecosystem implications of faeces as harmful contaminant and potentially useful nutrient? And to the relationships with urban water resource management, and with stormwater drainage and flooding? This session will provide an opportunity for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to identify key emerging issues, and to discuss ways in which ongoing research can usefully support practice and policy.

Gold standard events are committed to ensure the gender balance in speakers/panellists and young professional representation in the session.


1600: Welcome and session overview... in which we will present, for your sensory delight and intellectual stimulation, the extraordinary and mysterious Pathogen People!

1605: Introductory mini-presentations: Why do we need to understand the ways in which faecal waste moves through urban ecosystems? What approaches are currently being used to improve understanding?

1620: Analysis: What are the implications of our current understanding for the design of urban sanitation systems and related environmental improvements? What are key gaps in our current understanding?

1630: Table discussions: To what extent are implementing agencies currently taking health impact and environmental impact into account in investment decision-making? If to limited extent: why? What (if anything) needs to change?

1700: Plenary discussion

1720: Closing reflections from selected participants

1730: Close