BUS Text 10. Innovation Summary



The Biological Urban Sanitation Project (BUSP) focusses on lowest income groups, especially in urban areas. BUSP aimed at gradually reducing the sanitation chain to practically nothing. It builds on the impressive appetite of Black Soldier Fly (BSF) larvae and aimed to develop low-budget marketable designs minimising the need for pit emptying and reduced environmental and health risks and substantial long term savings. Before the process was proven in laboratory research, but was not applied in a real household setting.
Although over the past decades several urban sanitation expansion initiatives have taken place in Mozambique, in urban areas 53% of the population lack access to basic sanitation facilities. Of the total urban population 12% still uses open defecation.

For the ease of logistics and to reduce costs the project was concentrated to Maputo, the residence of one of the project initiators and providing the correct climatological circumstances for BSF to flourish. During implementation of the project it became clear that in the cold season (app. 3 months/year), BSFs survive inside compost but the temperature in Maputo gets too low for BSF reproduction. Because the CBO Optar was based in Polana Caniso, a low-income community in Maputo, the pilot phase was undertaken there. In Mozambique's capital Maputo with a total population (including Matola) close to 2 million people produces about 400 ton human excreta daily).

No specific information on Maputo could be found but information from comparable cities in the region, reveals that the households with access to improved sanitation can or do not always use it. The reasons why they are not used can be:
• Lack of awareness and inadequate change in social norms,
• No/limited pit emptying options after the pit has filled up,
• Inappropriate choice of technologies and construction errors,
• Belief that excreta from young children are harmless or children fear to use the toilet.


The project idea was to find practical possibilities of marketing sustainable biological sanitation and mitigate constraints and risks through sludge reduction by BSF larvae consuming the fresh sludge inside the latrine. The focus of the project was on:
(1) Finding a biological solution to minimise the need for pit emptying, including health threatening, physical contact,
(2) Create socio-economic acceptance towards the unconventional approach,
(3) Develop a product for commercial production and marketing,
(4) Document all steps in the development process as learning and monitoring tool.

The project focusses on:
• Toilets with straight flush using just one cup of water to flush (Pia Fantastica) and (optional) BSF inoculation. The toilets could also be installed to transform of existing (SanPlat) latrines by using the existing lined pits.


• To achieve the above, during three years of project implementation a new toilet bowl was developed using just one cup of water to flush, the so called, Pia Fantastica. The Pia Fantastica flushes under an angle of 45 degrees and has no water lock. It has the convenience of a pedestal like a ceramic toilet. It is a low-cost solution attractive to the local market and with only positive responses by its users. It forms the base of the Susamati business. Users of the Pia Fantastica are unanimously positive about the Pia Fantastica.
• In June 2018, ten women and one man were trained on the production of the Pia Fantastica.
• Until March 2019, 45 pia´s have been sold at the commercial market, 10 were installed under the pilot project and there are app. 65 pia´s in stock pile.
• The BSF cultivation was an experiment during the first 18 months of project implementation; it needed experimenting and a lot or “trial and error”. A production line was set-up leading to the first inoculation of pits in January 2018.
• So far, BSF reproduction has not been observed to take place inside the toilet pit. Inoculation has to take place regularly. In August 2018, owners of pilot toilets with BSF were trained to cultivate their own BSF in compost boxes in their yard. A households, which applied this, report that their PITS DO NOT FILL UP. Other households have not started their own BSF growing.
• Acceptance of the technology: the use of BSF or the pia fantastica has not been reported as a problem or challenge. While interviewing beneficiaries, they mentioned that also in their previous pits insects and animals would crawl around. For them this was considered “normal”.
• The project has been transformed into the business Susamati, under ownership and guidance of Manuel Gungulo, the local project coordinator, and his team of young and enthusiast Mozambican entrepreneurs. They have set up their own workshop with support of project funds.
• Susamati has developed a business and marketing plan and is implementing this as from February 2019.
• Documenting was done through ViaWater website, video updates by project staff and formal project and financial updates to ViaWater. A formal WASH sector publication will follow in the course of 2019 after all research on BSF and toilet (pia) improvement have been completed with support of three volunteers from Brazil and the Netherlands.

Vi Nguyen's picture

Thanks for sharing this and looking forward to learning more from your upcoming publication. In addition to your project successes and outcomes, I'm interested to know what key lessons you have learnt from testing this innovation?  

Annemarieke Mooijman's picture

Sure, we have collected lots of information but had problem analysing it. We changed the monitoring team but that also did not give the outcome. In April, a volunteer researcher from the Netherlands joint the Susamati team to conduct more indepth research. He will stay for three months. We expect to publish more based on his findings