Human Waste in Agriculture of Africa!

In recent years an innovative project of International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has started to boost the agriculture of Africa. Resource Recovery and Reuse team at the West Africa office of IWMI directly responsible for this project. This project is called ‘Fertilizer Pellet Fertilization Project’.

The goal of this project is to harness human waste and turn it into safe, hygienic fertilizer pellets, which will be safe and suitable for application by farmers. If the formula clicks, this fertilizer will help farmers to develop the organic content and nutrient levels of their poor soils, which in turn can improve the water bearing capacity and crop yields of their cultivating lands.

The raw materials of this project consists a mixture of human waste and other natural products such as organic food scraps and sawdust. By simultaneously turning and resting the mixture, create a natural heat treatment during the composting process that will assist in removing pathogens while minimizing nutrient losses.

‘Fertilizer Pellet Fertilization Project’ isn’t a new concept. For centuries, it has been used effectively in Asia. But it is comparatively new for sub-Saharan Africa; adding organic waste to the soil makes sense in a region particularly vulnerable to climate variability and changes. Rainfall may become far more unusual. Providing smallholder farmers with support to improve water and soil management will be a key strategy to increase their resilience to adverse climatic conditions and hence minimizing poverty in a changing climate.

“Unlike animal manure or farm residue traditionally, the use of human manure in agriculture has been met with some opposition in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Nikiema. “However, this was more at the regulatory level than at the farmer’s end. Farmers appreciate the material.” And Nikiema understands that cultural resistance on using human waste in producing foods is a confounding factor that needs to be addressed.