Xai Xai, Mozambique
Xai Xai, Mozambique
Xai Xai, Mozambique

Recent project updates

No updates yet


Different Frisian organizations are involved in sanitation in Mozambique. In the Frisian Urban Sanitation Program (FUSP), the province of Fryslân, Water Board Fryslân, Vitens and most municipalities in Fryslân cooperate and support local authorities in Mozambique to improve sanitation conditions. SWS will cooperate with FUSP to achieve multiple goals in sanitation related topics in Xai Xai, one of the 8 cities where FUSP has been active. Xai Xai is located in the south of Mozambique. The cooperation with SWS is relevant for FUSP because the project described in this proposal will contribute to the protection of groundwater, improved handling of waste from latrines and recycling of nutrients from waste streams.
In Xai Xai, FUSP has a partnership with the municipality of Xai Xai to produce compost from organic waste. This started in 2013 and also incorporates faecal sludge in the compost. As a next step SWS and FUSP seek to reuse urine by extracting the mineral struvite, which is a valuable fertilizer for agriculture. When Nitrate can be extracted as well, the amount of nitrate leeching into the aquifer (which is used for extraction of drinking water) can be reduced significantly. SWS International has developed a struvite(fertiliser) recovery system and seeks a project to test the system in a real-life situation. Together with electricity generation from urine it probably will provide a sustainable and viable system for cities which depend on groundwater for drinking water supply (like Xai Xai). By collecting urine and processing it, a significant reduction of the groundwater quality problem can be achieved.
For SWS, participation in this project will give the perfect opportunity to see whether the reactor will work in full scale as expected. During the pilot, it will be tested on operational reliability and on repeatability of the output. Furthermore, the demand for struvite and the market for it will be investigated, to ascertain whether the concept is economical viable. The marketing channels are defined and integrated in the project. The project will also give the opportunity to test electricity generation from urine as an additional step to use waste streams as efficient as possible.
These techniques will contribute to a safe and responsible treatment of liquid waste and will offer the municipalities a sound alternative for the often-practiced dumping of waste material. The sewage system and most septic tanks in Xai Xai now drain into the Limpopo river which causes locally severe water pollution and increased health risks for the residents. Moreover, the common use of non-sealed pit latrines has caused a worrying rise of nitrate concentrations in the aquifers.
The importance of the kind of projects as proposed here, which tackle these issues in an economically viable way, cannot be overstressed since alternatives such as new well fields or treatment would cost millions of euros. With the project described in this proposal SWS International hopes to attract positive feedback and awareness on the importance of such projects in third world countries

Project Plan

The project will try to address two major problems: the poor sanitation in low income areas and the reduction of nitrogen inflow into the aquifers. SWS has developed a plan to tackle both problems simultaneously. It will also bring along positive side effects. The system is mainly composed of two parts which are the replacement of latrines and the collection and treatment of urine and faeces.

1- Replacing the currently used latrines:
- The latrines that are now used in Xai Xai are assumed to be the main cause of the rise in nitrate levels in the groundwater. The non-sealed pits under these latrines must be replaced with sealed ones, which prevent percolation of urine into the groundwater. The design for these new pit-latrines has already been tested by SWS in Namibia. These latrines are composed of a simple plastered hole in the ground that will hold the faeces and a neighbouring septic tank for holding the urine. To separate the faeces from the urine a Xipoti type toilet with urine diversion will be used.

2- Collecting the urine and faeces:
- A urine/faeces collecting plan will be made to assure a steady flow of urine/faeces for the treatment facility and also to avoid overloading the latrines.

3- Urine/faeces treatment:
- A struvite reactor is used to extract struvite from urine and in the process drastically lowering the nitrate levels in the urine. The struvite can be used as a fertilizer for agriculture.
- The leftover fluids from the process will be denitrified by converting its remaining nitrate contents into nitrogen gas. This way the water that is leftover can be discarded more safely into the environment. (denitrification)
- The faeces will be dried and turned into compost which can also be used as a fertilizer.

Target group

Initially, the pilot will focus on the 250 households in the low income area around the borehole with regard to sanitation.
The Borehole is used for the central water supply of Xai Xai and will affect many more people if nitrogen levels would drop.
The struvite and manure will be nprocessed and managed by the Agriculture Cooperative.


The project has a pilot character, but is aiming at sustainability in several ways:
1. sustainability of existing boreholes to avoid increase of Nitrate levels
2. sustainability of the system by including value to waste approach and including private partners
3. sustainability of the sanitation service by inclusion in the Municipal system

Overview of Goals

1 - Stabilizing and reducing nitrate levels in the water of the test borehole.
2 - Increasing the overall sanitation level in the surrounding area of the test site.
3 - Creating a struvite and compost business to stimulate the recycling of urine/feces and to increase employment.
4 - Avoiding high costs for implementing water treatment systems or new boreholes.
These objectives will be translated to objectively verifiable goals and their corresponding activities. These activities are spread across three phases. Each phase must be completed successfully to proceed with the next phase.

Results and indicators

  • inception phase