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Terra preta sanitation: a new tool for sustainable sanitation in urban areas?

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conference contribution
posted on 12.02.2018, 15:10 by Constanze Windberg, Asrat Yemaneh, Ralf Otterpohl
Terra Preta (Black Soil) is highly fertile soil, which was produced in the Amazon region until around 500 years ago. It is a result of sanitation and biowaste management which can give direction in developing a sustainable future. Ongoing research indicates that addition of ground charcoal and lactic acid fermentation are probably the main components in producing terra preta. These discoveries were used to develop Terra Preta Sanitation, which is not one fixed type of sanitation but rather a set of processes: collection under lactic acid fermentation and transport to a semi-central site for thorough vermicomposting. The addition of lactic acid bacteria and powdered bio-char eliminate faecal smell, facilitate sanitization and increase user friendliness. In this way sanitation can help produce rich soil, which in turn improves water availability, food security and the regional climate. The avoidance of smell and opportunities for business development make TPS an obvious choice in urban contexts.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

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  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)

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WEDC Conference


WINDBERG, C. ... et al, 2013. Terra preta sanitation: a new tool for sustainable sanitation in urban areas?. IN: Shaw, R.J. (ed). Delivering water, sanitation and hygiene services in an uncertain environment: Proceedings of the 36th WEDC International Conference, Nakuru, Kenya, 1-5 July 2013, 6pp.


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