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Prof. Michael Templeton calls for adoption of “tiger worm toilets” to fight underground water pollution

Prof. Michael Templeton calls for adoption of new technologies such as “tiger worm toilets” to fight underground water pollution
Professor Michael Templeton

By: Godfred Amoaful

A Public Health Engineer at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College London, Professor Michael Templeton has called for the adoption of new technologies that align with community interests to find solutions to the sanitation crisis across Sub-Sahara Africa. 

He said the quest to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 requires a collaborative work between communities, different disciplines in the field of sanitation, institutions like the universities to draw ideas on the best practices to minimize chemical pollution of ground water. 

Professor Templeton was speaking on the topic, research to move towards sustainable sanitation for all at an occasional lecture by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana. 

He said the toilet structures developed across many African countries affect the water bed in the soil thereby polluting underground water, causing several water borne diseases among many people. Prof. Templeton suggested the application of ‘tiger worm’ a new technology in dealing with this sanitation issue, to be accepted and operated by individuals and entities

Tiger Worm Toilets, sometimes known as ‘Tiger Toilets’ or vermifilter toilets, contain composting worms inside the pit that process and digest the faeces in-situ, processing the raw sludge into vermicompost. 

This takes away the need for traditional desludging, as the vermicompost is simpler to remove and builds up at a slower rate. 

This can lead to a reduction of long-term operating costs and expunge the need for expensive desludging and sludge treatment infrastructure. 

Research says, a worm colony can live inside the toilet indefinitely so long as the correct environmental conditions are maintained. 

According to Professor Templeton, even though the tiger worm toilet is not recommended for flood-prone areas, the technology goes a long way to reduce schistosomiasis infections, and other underground waterborne diseases as it lowers the impacts of feaces on the underground water. 

Prof. Templeton said research work must focus on achieving any of the SDG goals, especially goals three, five, and six. This he said will create an eco-friendly environment, and help make the world a healthier and a happy place for all habitants.

“There is no one technology that is best for every situation so I think there is an important message that we need to present the options to the various communities and figure out what is the best option for them.”

“From my perspective, I think a lot of these technologies will stay a lot and a lot of people will get access to them”, he emphasized. 

In her remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo underscored the need for partnerships, both local and international in finding solutions to issues of sanitation. She said, researchers must adopt a community engagement approach in finding solutions to certain issues.

“It is important for us to connect with our communities. We cannot continue to talk to ourselves as academics and think the research that we do will impact society. And so not just working among ourselves as academics because these relationships are deeply grounded in mutual respect will catalyst innovation, reintegrate our practices, and amplify our influence as academics”, she said 

Based on the elaboration made on collaboration, community engagements, and research geared toward achieving at least one of the SDGs, the University of Ghana will from next month launch a new research strategy that will recognize the importance of building strong partnerships with industries, government, and communities.

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