SPANS - Sanitation Planning for Alternative Nutrient-recovery Systems

Last changed: 31 May 2023
Pictures 1 and 2 show some participants at SPAN's co-design workshop on game development. Pictures 3 and 4 show several students in white coats conducting experiments on how latrine sludge can be treated

The project wants to improve knowledge related to adaptation and innovation in Sanitation Planning. In particular it explores technical and societal readiness of Alternative Nutrient-recovery Systems. The focus of this research project is on alternative sanitation systems that can recycle nutrients in Uganda, a country where only 29% of the urban population have access to a good toilet. Alternative sanitation systems are defined as innovative solutions for human waste management using source separation, or similar techniques, for the conversion of nutrients into valuable products such as protein, biomass and fertilizer.

The project uses a social-technical system perspective that includes the technologies for collecting, transporting and processing human waste, as well as the users of the system and the organizations responsible for system management. The project aims to increase knowledge of perceived risks with these systems and how to integrate such innovations into existing wastewater systems.

The project is structured around three phases. First, researchers will map what types of nutritional recovery techniques are available in Uganda and assess their technology and market development. This study investigates the possibilities for these systems to reduce disease spread, environmental impact, and their market potential, including potential for urban agriculture to receive recycled products. The second phase of the project examines the social acceptance of alternative systems. This will be through interviews, group discussions and the use of an "innovation game". Finally, a game will be developed as a tool to bring more players together in a planning process. The game will help actors explore new structures for managing human waste, both in physical infrastructure and in management organizations. During the last two stages of the project, researchers will work closely with local actors in Uganda's municipalities to anchor results in reality.

The project results will assess the potential of alternative nutritional recovery systems in Uganda municipalities to provide benefits to public health and the environment. This knowledge will expand our arsenal of solutions to address the sanitation crisis. At the same time, the project develops practical tools and methods for planning and decision making that can be used to handle the necessary transformations in wastewater management systems.

Publications on resource recovery:


Publications on serious games:

Policy brief


Serious Game


SPANS was active between 2017-2021.

Participating from the department: Jennifer McConville (project leader) and Annika Nordin.

External partners:

Charles Niwagaba, Makerere University, Uganda, Elisabeth Kvarnström, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Monica Billger, Chalmers University of Technology

The project is funded by Vetenskapsrådet, the Swedish Research Council.