EcoEng Newsletter No. 11, October 2005

EcoSan conference in eThekwini/Durban, 2005 - a brief summary

Content No. 11/05
Title page / Index
From the editors
Faces: H.v.Bohemen
Review: EE Book
Overview, Etnier
Kirk et al.
Composting (ch. 4)
Fecal composting
Policy Finl, Mattila
Desert infrastruct.
Writers' Fund
Ecosan Durban 05
Good bye T. Rohrer
Various issues:
Joe's Corner
Mailing list

By Ms. Ina Jurga

room 808 No 41 Maizidian Street, Chaoyang district
Beijing , 100026
PR China

Ina-Patricia Jurga, graduated as civil engineer in the fields of waste management and urban water management from University GH Duisburg-Essen, Germany. After consultation for GTZ ecosan project, she is working since April 2005 as a CIM- expert at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Engineering (CAAE), Institute for Energy and Environmental Protection in Beijing in the field of ecological sanitation, including biogas-sanitation, all with the facilitation on international co-operations in these fields.


The 3rd International Conference on Ecological Sanitation was held from May 23-25, 2005 in Durban, South Africa. After the first Conference 2001 in Nanning, China, and Luebeck, Germany in 2003, the venue was chosen due to the country's large commitment to provide adequate ecological sanitation. In South Africa almost 40'000 dry urine diversion toilets have been implemented, of which 20'000 units are build in eThekwini (Durban) municipality since 1997.

The conference was attended by about 260 participants from 27 countries, sharing enthusiastically their experiences, actual research results, obstacles, and current activities in the field of ecological sanitation. During the 4 days a total of 76 presentations were held in panel and parallel sessions, stressing the topics health, social issues, rural and urban case studies, architecture, technology research as well country papers. On Friday May 27, a post-conference seminar on agriculture and horticulture related to EcoSan was offered. Besides the programme there was a small exhibition showcasing Ecosan related products from South African companies as well posters on research and activities in the field.

The opening session presented the achievements worldwide since the last conference, and was highlighted by a local theatre group, which acts their very entertaining play on EcoSan toilet maintenance, which is commonly shown to the communities.

The need for capacity building was stressed in an evening side event organized by GTZ. The upcoming UNESCO-IHP ecosan publication was presented, and was followed by a discussion on future demands and work tasks in this field. Another side event hosted the world premier of the film "the Human Excreta Index". This documentary film, produced by Dutch filmmaker Mattias Ylstra and Netherlands organisation "waste", shows urine diversion projects from around the world. With examples from South Africa, Uganda, Palestine, India, Peru, China and Sweden this film is an interesting material to show the different local and cultural related solutions for the technology.

During the 1 day field visit, the participants visited the implemented toilets in rural area of eThekwini Municipality. The toilets structure are build by local craftsmen, as part of the governmental programme to overcome unemployment . The non-closed loop concept has been discussed widely, as urine is drained away in the soil and the faeces, after around 1 year storage, are buried in the soil. Besides the new toilets the households also receive a 200l water tank for their daily supply. Later the Pollution research group of the University of Kwazulu-Natal presented their research on the influence of burried faeces to the soil, different water resources for plant irrigation and the testing of anaerobic baffled reactor.

Fig. 1: A snapshot from the opening session.
(Photo: I.Jurga)

Fig. 2: Field trip to Ecosan toilet in eThekwini (Durban) municipality
(Photo: I.Jurga)


As a conclusion of the conference, the participants agreed that there is still a long way to go to achieve the Millennium Development goals, but Ecosan proved to be a feasible concept to provide adaequate sanitation. There are very successful projects worldwide, but upscalling, especially without foreign donor, and urban solutions still remain a field to work on. The Ecological sanitation experts should emphasis on good coordination and networking to strengthen the development, knowledge transfer and to overcome predictions by users, engineers, decision makers and officials.




All the abstracts, the fullpapers and some presentations can now be downloaded from the conference website.

Conference website:

More information and ordering of the film:

© 2005, International Ecological Engineering Society, Wolhusen, Switzerland