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Evaluating alternative sustainable sanitation technologies for East Africa and the Pacific in order to improve both human and environmental health


The main aim of the PhD research is to evaluate a range of sanitation systems for developing countries, that protect human and environmental health; while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building climate resilience. The research will address knowledge gaps and barriers around using alternative sanitation systems that enable resource recovery. Existing sanitation systems will be examined in detail in the two focus regions; East Africa and the Pacific Islands. The findings will be used to inform policy translation needed to facilitate the market for bio-solids, biogas and other faecal sludge products in those specific countries.


Dr Jacqueline Thomas.

Research location

Civil Engineering

Program type



Globally, 2.4 billion people do not have access to appropriate sanitation (United Nations 2016). Appropriate sanitation is a safe and hygienic latrine, that is the first stage in an effective treatment chain for human faecal waste (Tilley et al., 2011). Sanitation also includes the disposal of solid waste. It is estimated that 1.1 billion people consume faecally contaminated water (Bain et al., 2014). The lack of appropriate sanitation results in approximately 800 420 deaths every year due to water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) related diseases and accounts for 5.5 % of all deaths in children under 5 years (Prüss-Ustün et al., 2014). Also, the absence of proper treatment of human waste is causing increasing environmental damage in developing countries (Williams et al., 2015), and presents a lost opportunity for resource recovery. Further, the impacts of climate change will affect the poor in developing countries the most (Kim et al., 2014). There for it is critical to develop sanitation systems that are resilient to extreme weather events (Sherpa et al., 2014), while protecting human health and the environment.

Additional information

Research technique: The research project will involve both the collection and analysis of raw data surround the performance of current alternative sanitation systems. Students should have a good understanding of wastewater treatment and a willingness to learn laboratory methods for testing. Eligibility criteria: The suitable candidate will have experience in water and/or wastewater engineering. The position will involve periods of time (months) living in the field conducting research. Candidates must be able and willing to travel and live overseas in developing countries in East Africa and Pacific Islands (maximum 12 months over the PhD). Scholarships and funding available: A full scholarship is available from the University of Sydney that can be used for either student fees or a living stipend that is equivalent to $26 682 p.a. (2017 rate) for 3.5 years. Eligible students are encouraged to apply for competitive funding via the Australian Government Research Training Program also.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2252