Ghana is experiencing a rapid population growth that is outpacing sanitation infrastructure development and service delivery especially in urban catchment areas. The release of both solid and liquid waste into the environment is leading to increasing freshwater pollution, increasing nutrient and pathogen load in waterbodies causing eutrophication and other sanitation related health risks. One solution is to recover nutrient, organic matter and water from urban wastes to prevent nutrient run-off and catchment pollution and to divert pathogens from contamination pathways thereby creating a useful resource.
The overall objective of this PhD study is to investigate a solid and liquid wastes composting system to assess how the associated compost fertiliser product can contribute to safe crop production and how these activities could impact on the environment. The aims are:
- To characterise nutrient flow in a faecal sludge (FS) and food waste (FW) composting system;
- To assess microbial dynamics and prevalence of antimicrobial resistant pathogens at various stages of FS and FW compost production;
- To determine the microbial and nutrient load of the product at various stages of storage;
- To characterise soil biodiversity, organic matter and other contaminant dynamics and quantify nutrient uptake characteristics after applying the fertiliser.
The project will provide a better understanding of the nutrient and microbial flow in the composting system, serving as decision support for planning of resource recovery operations and for predicting the contribution of recovered resources on catchment pollution abatement. The community benefits will include:
- A reduction in the run-off of nutrients into water bodies in target catchments by recovering nutrients from wastes;
- Improved community health and reduction in sanitation related diseases;
- Increased farm productivity, which could lead to improved livelihood, economic growth and better nutrition for the urban population.