Advancing Sustainable Sanitation and Agriculture through Investments in Human-Derived Nutrient Systems

Hannah A.C. Lohman, John T. Trimmer, David Katende, Muwonge Mubasira, Maria Nagirinya, Fred Nsereko, Noble Banadda, Roland D. Cusick, Jeremy S. Guest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The sixth Sustainable Development Goal seeks to achieve universal sanitation, but a lack of progress due to inhibiting factors (e.g., limitations in financial resources, sociocultural conditions, household decision-making) demands innovative approaches to meet this ambitious goal. Resource recovery may generate income to offset sanitation costs while also enhancing agriculture through increased access to agricultural nutrients. The objective of this work was to determine if resource recovery sanitation can be a profitable business model in a specific context (Kampala, Uganda) and to explore the potential for this approach to translate to other Sub-Saharan African contexts. A techno-economic analysis was performed to evaluate the financial viability of two nutrient recovery systems and business models in urban communities in Kampala under two financing scenarios: (1) Startup relying on partial sanitation aid, and (2) Self-sustaining without philanthropic financing. Results show profitability can be achieved at a nutrient selling price at or below fertilizer market value in Uganda. Recoverable nutrients from the total population without at least basic sanitation services, in 10 Sub-Saharan African countries, are the same magnitude as nutrients distributed in subsidy programs (30-450% of distributed nutrients), indicating a potential to offset inorganic fertilizer consumption or increase nutrient availability. This research makes a case to support innovative sanitation strategies and the development and financial support of human-derived fertilizer markets in areas with poor fertilizer and sanitation access.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9217-9227
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 4 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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