Written by Georg Ecker, Advisor Emergency WASH and Disaster Management at AutRC

The Austrian Red Cross (AutRC) WASH Service Center continues its Human Waste Management Strategy with the following two flagship projects.

In Imvepi/Bidibidi, Africa’s largest refugee camp (UNHCR May 2021), the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) together with the AutRC has started a Waste Management Center with the components Solid Waste Management, Vermicomposting, Faecal Sludge Treatment, and Briquette Production. Across all elements, Green Response is the guiding principle and the economic cost recovery through each element is evaluated together with Makerere University in Kampala.

2 men standing close to the camera with their backs to the photo. Photo shows a construction site and green landscape as well as 4 other men talking right at the construction site and one person standing inside the construction site.

URCS Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant in Imvepi/Bidibidi

The faecal sludge treatment plant will be commissioned early next year by URCS under scientific guidance of Makerere University and the eawag Department Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development (https://www.eawag.ch/en/department/sandec/).

The Faecal Sludge Field Laboratory (https://www.faecalsludgefieldlaboratory.com/) will not only play a crucial role in Imvepi but has also been the entry point for the AutRC to IFRC Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) activities in and around the Kutupalong Mega Camp in Cox’s Bazar/Bangladesh.

Based on first substantial IFRC experiences in FS treatment there, the AutRC has taken the lead to further develop the faecal sludge treatment capacity of the Red Cross Red Crescent (RCRC) Movement with the final objective of having a global FSM Emergency Response Unit (ERU https://ifrcgo.org/global-services/wash/) based on regional capacities.

Image displayst text saying "Faecal Sludge Management Emergency Response Unit Development Project - Kick off meeting, Vienna 13 & 14 October 21". The invitation also shows an image with people sitting in a room with tables, wearing masks.

FSM ERU Development Project – Vienna Kick-Off Meeting

We want to reach this goal in close cooperation with IFRC, other National Societies and the Academia. Funding will be achieved through the Environmental Sustainability pillar of the ECHO-IFRC PPP Program, RC partners and SDC (https://www.eda.admin.ch/sdc). The kick-off meeting has been held in Vienna between 13 and 14 October, 2021.

During the 6-month Inception Phase our academic partners will re-calculate the original design and setup, at the same time training material will be established. During the Implementation Phase, a prototype will be tested in the field and future regional trainers will be trained on the plant and the laboratory. A scaled version with a ratio of around 1:10 of the original will be based at an Austrian University to accompany the field trials. After the successful Implementation Phase, a final version of the ERU hardware will be pre-positioned for global use and scaled-down versions will be handed over to dedicated National Societies in the IFRC Regions Africa, Asia Pacific, Middle East/Northern Africa, and Europe (from the Implementation Phase). Regional experts will be trained during the final 2-year Sustainability Phase in the regions. The scaled hardware will be used for regional trainings, small scale regional emergencies, such as field hospitals or base camps. The regional experts will not only respond regionally but will also be the future members of the global ERU FSM pool.