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Provision of sustainable sanitation in emergency situations: role of ecosan

This paper describes the potential of ecological sanitation (ecosan), and in particular of urine-diversion dehydrating (UDD) toilets, to provide sustainable excreta disposal in emergency situations in low-income countries. Three case studies of emergency sanitation were analysed: El Salvador (hurricane), Afghanistan (civil war) and Pakistan (earthquake). The analysis of these case studies has shown that the systems implemented in the long-term phase of the emergency were sometimes more sustainable than what was in place before the emergency occurred. For UDD toilets to be viable during emergency situations, specific criteria have to be in place. The essential criteria include awareness and expertise among aid agencies, ease of transportation and quick installation of standardised UDD units, stage and duration of emergency and the role of government in sanitation provision. For emergency situations in low-income countries, we propose the use of UDD toilets (e.g. with pre-fabricated urine-diversion squatting pans) as a suitable excreta management option, particularly in those instances where pit latrines are not sustainable in the longer term.

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