Nachhaltigkeit im Badezimmer

Vor einigen Jahren habe ich mal auf einer großen Kläranlage in der Verfahrenstechnik gearbeitet und dort miterlebt, wie Haare, Hygieneartikel und diverser Kleinkram die Geräte auf der Kläranlage verstopfen. Auf den Kläranlagen gibt es  Rechenwerke, die das grobe Zeug aus dem Abwasser herausfischen, aber vieles geht eben immer noch durch und landet dann dort, wo es eigentlich nur die Geräte im ordentlichen Betrieb behindert. Schlimm sind natürlich auch immer Kondome, die auch nach längerer Zeit im Abwasser eine gewisse Elastizität aufweisen und sich daher nur sehr mühsam aus den Mazeratoren (Zerkleiner) manuell entfernen lassen. Man muss also richtig Hand anlegen und die Geräte regelmäßig von all diesen Fremdkörpern befreien. Das ist alles ein mühsamer und sicherlich auch kostenintensiver Teil der mechanischen Abwasserreinigung, bevor es mit den chemischen und biologischen Reinigungsstufen weitergehen kann.

“Flush and forget” nennen wir im WASH-Sektor diese Mentalität, und ich schrieb auch schon mal drüben im Saniblog darüber, wie die Toilettenbenutzung ein Teil der kulturellen Identität ist und wie sehr sich das auf die Wertschätzung von Sanitäreinrichtungen auswirkt. „Einfach alles hinunterspülen” oder „Aus den Augen, aus dem Sinn” – so wird die Toilette leider von vielen Benutzern immer noch als Einbahnstraße für die Abfallentsorgung verwendet. Auf diese Art und Weise landen dann auch viele – man mag es kaum glauben – Q-Tips in der Kanalisation. Ja genau, diese Wattestäbchen, die eigentlich für die Reinigung schwer zugänglicher Bereiche verkauft werden und ihren Weg in die Toilette (statt in den Mülleimer) finden. In der Kanalisation lösen sich diese natürlich nicht auf, die vielen Kunststoffstäbchen bleiben erhalten und landen irgendwann auf der Kläranlage, wo sie sich in einer ruhigen Ecke über die Jahre ansammeln. Und zwar nicht nur so eine kleine Hand voll, sondern Kubikmeterweise. Continue reading “Nachhaltigkeit im Badezimmer”

CBD comfort

How much would you spend on having the ability to take a shower in the Central Business District?

I was just going through Ken Banks’ flickr stream when I stumbled upon these two mobile recharging stations which I had seen earlier (it’s up since ~2 years) but only now I just realized that SOMEONE urgently needs to convert this into an AfriGadget/-Biashara and combine it with lockers for e.g. shoes and other facilities.

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(source: Ken Banks,

Those of you who have been to cities like Nairobi know that a lot of people actually carry two pairs of shoes around – one for the road and one for the office. While working in Nbo, I often wondered why there are almost no public lockers available downtown that could be rented and used by commuters to deposit stuff they usually carry to the city on a daily basis for the lack of secure alternatives. Yes, there are some alternatives available, but these are(afaik) often only connected to supermarkets which means no 24h/7/365 availability of such services.

While these mobile recharging towers may work in the UK or the US in such secured places (like airports), I am wondering if this would also work in Nairobi if someone invests some money on a mobile charging cubicle with extra lockers for shoes and other office clothes, maybe also additionally secured by a watchman or someone running a kiosk.

What would it require? And how much would it cost? And what kind of licences would it require from the local institutions?

For some reasons, David Kuria’s website is unfortunately offline right now (so I can’t really show you what I am talking about), but it would be nice to have much more Ikotoilets all over Nairobi. While I believe that ecological sanitation projects always require a demand for fertilizers from farmers in semi-urban areas, the Ikotoilet as a 50% ecosan toilet could be one of those ideal locations for such storage facilities.

After all, it’s nice that consumers can buy airtime credit almost everywhere in the country, but there are hardly any places – even in cities – where one can take a shower after work, have a decent nature’s call or even use extra services like such lockers and mobile chargers.

There obviously is a great demand for such services / facilities – but how much would you be willing to spend on it as a customer and what’s the ROI rate for potential investors? I hope to find some answers to these questions one day…

Twestival, or why Twitter is the better alternative

Today is Twestival day and I am also attending the local gathering of Twitter users – which also happens to take place in my favourite pub here in Frankfurt (aptly named “the place to be“).

Twestival is a world-wide, almost simultaneous event (live streaming) and attendees are encouraged to donate some money to Charity Water, an NGO active in Ethiopia.

Somehow in a Prof. George Ayittey-way and having previously gained some experience on NGOs, the water business and having a different perspective (of an African/European intellectual) on it, I do of course feel a bit discomforted with such mass-donation events that a) promote water as a sexy (and innocent) cause and b) provide absolution to some Westeners who “want to do good”. Sorry, but sustainable approaches just don’t work that way. I would rather prefer institutional changes than the drilling of wells for areas on which we do not even have groundwater maps. But maybe that’s just me and my scepticism.

On the other hand, I somehow adore how they are making use of social media tools to mobilize the masses. Maybe this is what it takes to reach the masses. And this is also very cool:

FireShot Pro capture #84 - 'Twestival Tweet Meet Give ' - www charitywater org twestival
Tweet some facts” via Twitter.

I think we should also use this for ecological sanitation projects. Using social media to mobilize the masses. Kudos to CharityWater for this really smart approach!

One of the reaons for the success of Twitter and other micro-blogging services, I think, is also the lack of alternatives.

Yes. Even in 2009, there’s still no decent mobile blogging client except for Twitter & Co.

What I am looking for is an application designed for a smartphone that enables me to quickly post an update to my website, with annotated images, maybe also video content and the ability to edit all of this as well as moderate comments. All of the previously mentioned apps for Symbian S60 phones and plugins for installations just don’t do the job for me. And I don’t know about this on the iPhone. Is it any better? Would be a reason to switch phones.

So, even though Twitter is just a micro-blogging service with a limitation to 140 characters / message, it helps to serve the basic idea behind blogging: connecting people through conversations. And besides, with this character limit it is also compatible with another popular service: SMS.

I really like the idea of combining social media tools with the sector I am active in: sustainable sanitation.? Maybe that’s just the way forward for me.

sanitäre Grundversorgung im Bundestag

Der Deutsche Bundestag fordert die Bundesregierung auf,

2. dafür zu werben, dass in der internationalen Zusammenarbeit zukünftige Trinkwasserprojekte immer eine Sanitärkomponente enthalten;

4. dazu beizutragen, dass die lokale Bevölkerung in Angelegenheiten der sanitären Grundversorung und Trinkwasserversorgung angemessen informiert und beteiligt wird;

5. eine Strategie vorzulegen, wie die Kompetenzen deutscher Unternehmen…….im Bereich der Sanitärversorung stärker genutzt werden können….

14. den Ecosan-Ansatz auch bei internationalen Organisationen wie der FAO und regionalen Entwicklungsbanken bekannt zu machen und seine Anwendung einzufordern;

Na, das liest man doch gerne.

Gefunden in der Drucksache 16/11204, einem Antrag (vom 03.12.08) verschiedener MdBs um die sanitäre Grundversorung international zu verbessern.

Eigentlich erschreckend, dass hierfür eine Große Anfrage nötig war, um die Aufmerksamkeit der Bundesregierung auf dieses wichtige Thema zu lenken.

Knowledge Centres for sanitation and waste management

Just a short note on an interesting e-mail I’ve received today on the ecosanres Yahoo!Group on ecological sanitation: The (dutch NGO) WASTE “on behalf of the Programme Board of the INTEGRATED SUPPORT FOR A SUSTAINABLE URBAN ENVIRONMENT (ISSUE) programme” puts out an open tender for Knowledge Centres with tasks related to sanitation and waste mangement.

This is an invitation for a bid for the provision and distribution of ‘knowledge’ for the implementing partners of the ISSUE programme for a period ending on December 31, 2010. …Interested parties who have the pre-requisite experience in running and managing Knowledge Centres are requested to submit technical and financial proposals and any other supporting documentation not later than 1 August 2008.

Why is this interesting?

  1. “Countries specifically asked to respond are: India, Vietnam, Benin, Kenya or Tanzania, Malawi or Zambia”
    Please note the “or”. As in: “one regional office will do.” Kenya vs Tanzania. Obviously, an opportunity for Kenyan experts.
  2. You may probably know that I am an admin at the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (website, whose link i will not repeat because our website is currently being relaunched and still too shabby to be shown around…*cough* *cough*) and we or at least I quite frequently come across ppl who are willing to do something but are lacking the adequate funding and/or don’t know how to apply for funds. Neither do I! However, what I do know is that funds – as limited as they are – will be made available once there are suitable local partners. So, what is actually required (I think!) are much more local networks that will help those funding agencies to approach a local market. And with “funding agencies” I am not only talking about the usual suspects aka dev aid orgs who make a living out of “helping” the poor. Instead, think of businesses from abroad, companies from the US and Europe who would like to invest into an African market and often don’t know whom to approach at first hand. Such a “knowledge centre” for the reproduction and dissemination of knowledge could be a perfect incubator (ok, now that is vc lingua already) for healthy businesses.
  3. The assignments runs from 2008 till 2010, the end of the ISSUE
    programme. The total budget (3 years) for each KEN will be approximately:
    Latin America (Costa Rica):? ? 235000 Euro
    South East Asia (Vietnam):? ? 170000 Euro
    South Asia (India):? 145000 Euro
    West Africa (Benin):? 145000 Euro
    East Africa (Kenya or Tanzania):? 170000 Euro
    Southern Africa (Zambia or Malawi? 140000 Euro

Guys, what I am talking about is this upcoming market of sustainable toilet facilities that will rock communities across the globe in future. Just think of the Adopt-A-Light initiative (and what the GoK did to them once they realized there’s money to be made).
“Knowledge Centres”? – to me – are local networks that provide much more than just a nice budget for a two years period. Hence this open tender is a first qualification programme to see who will be able to pool other consultants/manufacturers in and who will prepare the market for the future.

In other words: THERE’S MONEY TO BE MADE FROM “WASTE”. Think about it next time you toss out stuff out of your car window or go to toilet.

(disclaimer: “sanitation as a business” is my favourite subject ….pole :-)

AOB: Link of the week – PicLens – an advanced image viewer plugin for FF that will provide you with a “haiiaaaaaa”-effect. Try it!

Does this make you feel better?

A animated flash advertisement when I logged off my webmailer led me to the page of Volvic fuer UNICEF, an initiative between (the water brand) Volvic and UNICEF that provides a simple marketing idea:

Buy 1 litre of Volvic naturelle water and they (Volvic) will pay the equivalent of 10 litres in form of financial aid to UNICEF – who are said to be drilling boreholes in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.



What a perfect way to improve your public image.

Nothing new though, the project has been up and running since 2005 now, and there’s a credible (German) journalist doing his “research” on the ground to see every donation is properly used.

Now, before I delve into the usual criticism when it comes to dev aid, lemme get this straight:

People in Europe WANT to help other – poorer – people and they want this aid to arrive as a 100% sum. Obviously, it’s a noble idea.

See that screenshot above? It comes from the Volvic fuer Unicef website and informs visitors about recent activities, tells them where Ethiopia is, which region will benefit and even – and that’s a bit strange, I think – provides us with a gallery of donors that have already logged in on that site and donated for this cause.

Now, those 92 boreholes/wells may not be such a huge figure to the groundwater discharge problem, but as far as I am informed, “water is in abundant supply on the world’s poorest continent” and poorly managed”.

Poorly managed, oh yes indeed.

So what do you – dear readers – think about such an intiative, considering various complex aspects such as

a) the usage of a mismanaged, but proud and rich country like Ethiopia to highlight some burning Millenium Developement Goals?

b) private companies trying to raise their sales & creating a positive product image by donating a certain amount for an x quantity of sold goods?

c) consumer’s desires to share their relative wealth with other, less fortunate people on this planet in a politically correct way?

As for me, I am bit undecided. It always freaks me out when I see this kind of advertisement (Africa = poor = help needed) – as already seen the other day.
Even IF we share 1 Euro/pp with another nation of our choice – will things improve? And is it only a matter of financial aid?
What about poor management? What about those young academics who are educated abroad and then have to settle for a 300,- EUR/month job with a governmental institution once they come back? Are they going to be the Cheetah generation? Or are they rather going to stick to the rules and manage to climb the institutional job ladder in order to support their families and continue managing the mismanagement they’ve inherited from the retiring Hippos?

I think that Ethiopia does not really need this help. Sure, it’s a nice gift and comes for free + provides further income, but is this the way to help?

How do you feel about this?

maji roach

I just registered with the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and realized once again how great this visual campaign is:


Check out their posters and postcards on water & sanitation issues! In fact, we’ve put these posters up on the wall next to the coffee machine @ work and ppl really react to it.

Don’t ask me what kind of difference this makes, but then: putting water and sanitation issues on the agenda of everyone is important, I think. This morning I went to the airport and came across some relatively dirty toilets – and this @ Germany’s largest airport! Still wondering why ppl are willing to spend thousands of EUROs on a new tv set but often just don’t care about proper sanitation facilities.