Last year, the Bill Gates Foundation ploughed US $1.5 million into the first fecal sludge to bio diesel conversion plant in Accra, Ghana. The plant, which is run by Colombia University professor Kartik Chandran, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and Ghana-based Waste Enterprisers (WE), will transform waste sludge into industrial fuel, methane, and biodiesel.
There are currently many organizations working tirelessly in Sub-Saharan Africa to develop solutions for urban sanitation issues that also benefit the environment. Swiss organization Excreta and Wastewater Management Aquatic Research has also launched FaMe, which studies the market in Senegal, Ghana, and Uganda for “faecal sludge-borne products” such as fertilizer, solid fuel, and biogas. The nine-month-old project aims to improve public and environmental health in urban areas of sub-Saharan Africa, where Diarrhoeal disease kills an estimated 1.8 million people worldwide each year.
Plants that transform biofuel into waste recycle a resource that would otherwise be lost to sewage treatment plants, and their arrival could possibly signify a new waste-based revolution in green energy. Cheaper fuel would clearly be a welcome addition in the region, but more important are the environmental and health consequences that would benefit so many residents.
Photos by Linda Strande