|The Use of Effluents from Biolatrines in Tanzania (African Development Foundation, 1996, 38 pages)|
The analysis presented above revealed several primary obstacles to expanded utilization of effluents from biolatrines as fertilizer. There is inadequate mass awareness of the technology, resistance to its acceptance due to negative social and cultural attitudes, and lack of serious concern and commitment from government leaders and policy makers.
The assumption underlying this research is that finding ways to overcome these obstacles, and to achieve the wider diffusion both of biolatrine technology and of utilization of effluents as fertilizer, would have significant benefits. These would include increased resource utilization; maximized agricultural and aquacultural yields; expanded harvest time based on diversified products; marketable surplus; energy source substitution through use of biogas; general environmental protection through wood-fuel substitution and improvement by treatment of soil condition; public health improvement by treatment of wastes; and, ultimately, improvement of living standards of the general population.
The objectives of this research were:
1. To investigate public opinion regarding biolatrine technology in general and, in particular, concerning acceptance of biolatrine effluents for agriculture and aquaculture;
2. To establish baseline data on the existence, the nature and content levels of pathogenic microorganisms from general biolatrine influents and effluents, in order to make appropriate recommendations for safe treatment, handling, reuse, or disposal;
3. To evaluate the effects of socio-economic factors, socio-cultural aspects, and religious values from different communities in the country on acceptance of the technology; and
4. To develop recommendations for community leaders and government policy makers on the best strategy for wider dissemination of the technology.
The research plan to achieve these objectives consisted of several distinct research methodologies. These include establishment of demonstration units for investigation of pathogen die-off in particular as well as for observation of user responses, a questionnaire designed for users and potential users of biolatrine technology, a research visit to Burundi for comparing notes on similar projects there, and pilot public awareness programs in dissemination of the technology.
a. Demonstration Units
Demonstration biolatrine units were installed in several strategic institutions of different types. One was set up in a district hospital in Arusha province. Another was located in a military camp at Oljoro where about one thousand recruits are trained each year. And a third was constructed at a secondary school in Kagera province.
These sites provided specimens for laboratory testing of biolatrine influents and effluents, to determine the content and persistence of pathogens. In each site, moreover, demonstration vegetable gardens were established with root vegetables (such as carrots and onions), leaf vegetables (such as spinach and lettuce) and fruit vegetables (such as tomatoes and paprika).
The gardens were both fertilized and irrigated using effluents from the biolatrines, in order to provide an empirical test of the effects on plant growth and on the pathogenic content of the plants at the time of maturity.
b. User Questionnaire
To evaluate the attitude of the users and potential users of this technology, the research team, including a sociologist, conducted field visits both to the demonstration sites and to other sites with biolatrine installations. Questionnaires were prepared and used in interviews. More than 60 percent of those interviewed filled out the questionnaires. The views of others were elicited through less formal discussions.
c. Exchange of Experiences with Burundi
A visit was made to Burundi, a neighboring country with climatic conditions, vegetation and social character very similar to those in Tanzania. Burundi has more than 10 years of experience with institutional use of bio-digesters, and it was likely that much could be learned from that experience. The focus during the visit was on the level of general acceptance and utilization of biolatrine effluents, on the strategy adopted towards extension and the factors related to acceptance of the technology, as well as on some technical aspects.
d. Public Awareness Programs
The research took place in the context of, and was coordinated with, ongoing programs to disseminate biolatrine technology. Methods being used include seminars, scientific symposiums, newspapers, radio programs, and discussions with agricultural and livestock extension officers.
Several project proposals to possible donor agencies on installation of biolatrines have been written for private, church and governmental institutions. The selection of beneficiaries was made taking into account not only the institutions' needs for safe handling of waste, but also the extent to which they might serve as demonstrations to others. Involving government officials was essential both for their role in mobilizing public support and for possible financial assistance to promotion of the technology.