A Study by Dr. Prajna Paramita Mishra, faculty and Kongala Venkatesh, Research Associate from the School of Economics, University of Hyderabad (UoH) in association with School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, UK; School of Water, Energy and Environment, Cranfield University, UK; Department of Geography, Durham University, UK; School of Natural and Social Sciences, University of Gloucestershire, UK; and Fresh Water Action Network South Asia, Tarnaka, Telangana, India, is now published in the Journal – One Earth https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S259033222100049X
Much previous research shows that safe disposal of human waste has a positive impact on human wellbeing, while preventing the degradation of ecosystems. However, to date, the role that ecosystems themselves play in treating human waste has been largely neglected. The research team conceptualize the role nature plays in treating human waste—acting as a pipeline and/or treatment plant. They estimate that nature is treating ~41.7 million tons of human waste per year worldwide, a service worth at least 4.4 ± 3.0 billion USD year −1. The team demonstrates the opportunities and challenges of quantifying these “sanitation ecosystem services,” using 48 cities across the globe as a worked example. “In highlighting this, we are not marginalizing the vital role of engineered infrastructure, but instead are promoting better understanding of how engineered and natural infrastructure interact within a circular economy. This is a promising route for further research and may allow adaptive design and management, reducing costs, and improving effectiveness and sustainability” researchers said.
Prajna Paramita Mishra & Kongala Venkatesh from the School of Economics, University of Hyderabad; Simon Willcock & Indunee Welivita from the School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University; Alison Parker, Charlotte Wilson, Tim Brewer, Sarah Cooper, Dolores Rey & Paul Hutchings of the School of Water, Energy and Environment, Cranfield University; Dilshaad Bundhoo & Kenneth Lynch, School of Natural and Social Sciences, University of Gloucestershire; Sneha Mekala, Fresh Water Action Network South Asia, Tarnaka, Telangana, India.