MicrobialSludgeQuality (MSQ) – Field test kit for faecal sludge monitoring

Organisation: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna

Partners: Austrian Red Cross, Waste, Butyl Products Ltd

Location: Austria. Field Testing: Malawi and Kenya

Type of grant: Core – development

Status: Completed

  • Constructed wetland scheme/Figure by Johannes Bousek

  • Sample sites: a) Constructed wetland, b) sample well, c) Effluent sample; d) Aerated collection tank, e) Marco Skodak with sampling device, f) Sludge stabilization/drying bed/all pics. by Johannes Bousek

  • Lab work/live: a) Lab tent, b) Magdalena Bäuerl and Georg Ecker working with Akvo Caddisfly, c) & d) Georg Ecker working in the lab, e) Vernier titration station, f) Bacteriological work space, g) View from test site, h) Packed prototype in a VW-van/ Pic a) by Magdalena Bäuerl, othery by Johannes Bousek

  • BOKU-Team working with Mini-FLOTAC/left: Julia Baumrock at a microscope, lower right: Marco Skodak at a microscope, upper right: Mini-Flotac disk; all pics by Johannes Bousek, BOKU

  • Helminth eggs; a) Ascaris & b) Trichuris/Egg of a & b isolated out of faecal samples, pics by Johannes Bousek, BOKU

  • Group picture of the FLOTAC training, pic by Johannes Bousek, BOKU

  • Page 1/ Comic by Johannes Bousek

  • Page 2/ Comic by Johannes Bousek

  • Page 3/ Comic by Johannes Bousek

  • Lab life/Comic by Johannes Bousek

  • Mangochi ABR & Biogas Analytics/Comic by Johannes Bousek

  • Handover/Comic by Johannes Bousek

The innovation of the MSQ project is the development and pilot trial of a field test kit for microbial quality control and the detection of human pathogens throughout the treatment process of faecal sludge in urban humanitarian aid settings.


In an urban emergency setting providing adequate sanitation options is a still ongoing struggle for all large humanitarian aid organisations. Several faecal sludge treatment processes are currently developed and piloted. The MicrobialSludgeQuality (MSQ) project offers the development of analytical capability (a field test kit) for the quality control of such a treatment process. Through continuous analytical quality control the treatment process can be kept stable and working at a high throughput rate. The field test kit will offer the possibility to monitor (specific) human pathogens in faecal sludge during the treatment and ensure its safe subsequent usage.


The innovation in the MSQ project lies in the development and pilot trail of a field test kit for microbial quality control of faecal sludge and overall process control of sludge treatment plants. Currently no field test kits for those tasks are available on the market. In the project proven technologies from different suppliers will be combined into a functional and flexible test kit. This kit will offer analytical capability to humanitarian aid organisations on the ground to analyse faecal sludge and monitor sludge treatment plants. Effectively running faecal sludge treatment plants will lead to a risk reduction in the spreading of water borne diseases. It will evaluate the safety of the treated faecal sludge. Successfully treated sludge can turn faecal matter, a dangerous health risk, into a valuable commodity. It could be used as organic fertilizer.


The aim of the project is to develop a functional field test kit for the microbial quality control of faecal sludge and the monitoring of sludge treatment plants. This overall objective can be subdivided in the following subsets. In the laboratory stage analytical methods and the field test kit prototype will be developed and tested against proven laboratory methods and equipment. The aim is to reach comparable analytical results in the lab with the newly set up field test kit. After the lab work is finished the field test kit will be sent on a one month field trail in Malawi. At a partner’s project site, it will monitor a faecal sludge treatment plant. At the end of the project the xx will be handed over to the industrial partner for preparation of the market introduction of the field test kit.

Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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