Poo Gurus? Researching the Threats and Opportunities Presented by Human Waste

Applied Geography, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 15 September 2010

Sarah Jewitt

“There is huge geographical variation in the extent to which excrement represents a threat to human and environmental health. In the UK, we tend to think little of such risks. By contrast, 52% of all people in Asia have no access to basic sanitation and 95% of sewage in developing world cities is discharged untreated into rivers, lakes and coastal areas where it destroys aquatic life, reduces the potential of these ecosystems to support food security, facilitates the transmission of diseases and has a significant economic impact in terms of working days and earnings lost due to ill health. At the same time human excrement represents a resource that could be better utilized to promote human livelihoods and improve environmental quality through use as manure and as a source of biogas energy. This paper seeks to provide an overview of the importance of human waste (as both a threat and an opportunity) in different spatial, historical and cultural contexts and to highlight potential areas of interest for applied geographical research in future.

“Research highlights

  • The extent to which excreta threaten human and environmental health varies spatially.
  • Applied geographical research on this topic is currently quite limited.
  • Human waste could be better used to promote livelihoods and environmental quality.
  • Geographers can enhance understandings of locally appropriate excreta use/management.
  • This would help to respond to calls for ‘relevant’ research and ‘impact’.”

More information

Spatial-temporal Analysis of Biodiversity and Community Structure in Fishes in Wulihu Lake

Journal of Dalian Fisheries University, 2010-04

ZHANG Xian-zhong, HU Hai-yan, CAO Xiao-dong, SHEN Yong-ping, and BING Xu-wen

“The species composition of fish resources,dominant species and biodiversity were analyzed in Wulihu Lake by investigation of fish community structure and the biodiversity index of species of fish resources at 10 sampling stations in the lake from May 2008 to April 2009.Statistically,Erythroculter dabryi dabryi and estuarine tapertail anchovy Coilia ectenes taihuensis were the dominant species at each sampling station.The biodiversity was ranged from 1.759 to 3.011 at each sampling station,indicating that the diversity and abundance were normal in the Wulihu lake.There was no significant difference in fish community structure at each sampling stations,that is,the even spatial distribution of fish in Wulihu.There were significant differences in Shannon-Wiener biodiversity index between Yufudao station and Ludingshan station and between Yufudao station and Shuishangmingyue station in summer and the spring(P0.05).”