TÜV SÜD: Milestone for safe and sustainable sanitation in developing countries

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published an International Workshop Agreement (IWA-24) on “Non-sewered sanitation systems – General safety and performance requirements for design and testing”. This guideline is based on ground-breaking work by TÜV SÜD, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) served as the IWA secretariat. The IWA will pave the way for innovative, decentralized sanitation technologies in developing countries.

“The publication of the IWA is a major milestone in the development of decentralized sanitation technologies”, says Dr Andreas Hauser, Director of TÜV SÜD Water Services. It specifies the technical requirements, test methods and sustainability considerations for non-sewered sanitation systems. According to Dr Hauser, previous decentralized technologies have often proved to be unsafe, unsustainable or too expensive due to a lack of recognized standards or best practices.

The IWA is applicable to sanitation systems that are either manufactured as one package or designed to be integrated as a set of pre-fabricated elements to be assembled on-site, without the use of any additional engineering structures. These systems perform their treatment processes in one location through one or more treatment units comprising the backend of the sanitation system. “With the publication of the IWA a significant achievement in the development of an international standard has been reached”, Dr Hauser explains. “This is the next step for addressing the health and environmental needs of billions of people.” Around 80 % of diseases in developing countries result from poor sanitation and lacking clean water supply. This is also an environmental challenge, since 98 % of waste water is discharged into rivers, lakes and seas without any treatment.

In 2011, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the global Reinvent the Toilet Challenge (RTTC). TÜV SÜD received a grant from the foundation to assess the requirements and standards for innovative sanitation technologies. TÜV SÜD Water Services is making a major contribution towards introducing safe, reliable new technologies and innovative solutions in the sanitation sector, thanks to its interdisciplinary expertise and international experience. The services offered span support for governments, non-governmental organizations, investors in sanitation projects, technology developers and manufacturers as well as sanitation services providers.