Under a new sanitation policy, septic management has been included as a priority investment area in Sri Lanka. This includes the recycling of septage for reuse as organic fertilizer. Formally approved by the Government of Sri Lanka in late 2017, the new policy follows research and advice from WLE and IWMI on fecal sludge management and the safe recycling of human waste as fertilizer, using ‘circular economy’ technologies tested over ten years in Ghana and now being introduced in India.

Up to 96% of Sri Lankan households use septic tanks for sanitation waste, which is commonly dumped untreated into rivers, wetlands or the sea. The shift to safe recycling of this waste is hoped to reduce land and water pollution, reduce costs of septage management, contribute to improved nutrient use efficiency in agriculture and forestry, and open up new business opportunities for the production of organic fertilizer.

Research is ongoing into low-cost options for septage treatment, safe crop application rates, and identifying business models for the recycling of other organic waste into fertilizer. The Government of Sri Lanka has formally acknowledged IWMI’s support and invited researchers from the Institute to support the implementation of the new policy.

Research conducted by WLE.

Photo by IRRI.