Last week I had the great honor and pleasure of participating in and presenting at the Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) International Conference, hosted on the Kwame Nkrumah University Science and Technology campus in Kumasi, Ghana. The theme of this year’s conference was Ensuring Availability and Sustainable Management of Water and Sanitation for All.
The conference featured many presentations covering topics like fecal sludge management, resource recovery, and sanitation marketing, and was an incredibly valuable opportunity to gain exposure to international research and best practices in SOIL’s sector of work.
In addition, a few months ago, WEDC invited SOIL to present a paper discussing our research and progress in developing EkoLakay as a working social business model for the provision of household sanitation. The paper outlined the EkoLakay toilet and service, including preliminary cost estimates and a review of the iterations and improvements SOIL has made to the service over time. (And you can find the full paper online here if you want to!)
There was a large and engaged audience for my presentation of SOIL’s EkoLakay service, and interest from the group was so high that the discussion period was extended for an extra twenty minutes! Throughout the conference I also had the opportunity to meet with several groups working around the world who are interested in replicating EkoLakay or creating a similar service.
While in Kumasi, I enjoyed not only the intense learning of the conference environment, but also exploring the city in my down time. I had the opportunity to see a municipal landfill and waste treatment lagoon, use one of Ghana’s many pay-per-use public toilets at the Kumasi central market, and visit the Clean Team headquarters.
Clean Team is a Ghanian company that is developing a service VERY similar to EkoLakay – they even have a fleet of 3-wheel motorcycles for bucket collection like we do! I presented SOIL’s work at their office, and we had the opportunity to compare our two models.
The WEDC conference provided a valuable platform for continuing and improved collaboration and information sharing within the sanitation sector – an important component in our shared work and vision to achieve sustainable management of sanitation – in Ghana and Haiti and throughout the world!