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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.

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Latest Updates

The last blog entry

29 Jan 2018

In October 2017, the MSQ Project officially ended. However, the whole movement for a field lab for faecal sludge treatment plant monitoring is far from over. The last couple of months were a bit less exciting and spent reporting, collecting, and compiling data. In fact, we are still working on some reports.


Final Report: MicrobialSludgeQuality (MSQ) – Field Test Kit For Faecal Sludge Monitoring

03 Jan 2018

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. The final project report provides information on the methodology, activities, outputs, impact and dissemination of learning.


MSQ field trial part two - the last two weeks

05 Oct 2017

At the time of writing (05.09.2017) the field trial had ended and Chris and I were sitting in an airplane on our way back to Austria. We left Malawi with a laughing and a crying eye. Our time in Malawi was great, the support from our local partners was tremendous and the field lab worked quite well.


Welcome to Malawi - the first two weeks

31 Aug 2017

The first two weeks of the MSQ Field trial are complete! Wow, time passes quickly when you are having fun in a lab! Below is a short summary of what we did.


Out of the office and in to the field

11 Jul 2017

The MSQ field trail in Malawi in August is coming closer and closer. The prototype will be shipped from Austria in the next two weeks. Thus, the project team thought, it would be the best time to do a pre-field trail to assemble the whole lab, operate and test it and find any flaws.


FLOTAC training on how to find Helminth eggs

03 Apr 2017

In the first week of February, the MSQ BOKU team (Julia, Marco and Johannes) together with Georg from the Austrian Red Cross were trained by the University of Naples, Frederico II in the usage of the Mini-Flotac technique for helminth detection.


The partnership of the MSQ project

09 Mar 2017

The project consortium consists of the following four organisations, which will jointly develop the MSQ field test kit. The consortium offers a good balance between researchers, users and suppliers. The consortium has combined experience in research, development and implementation of sanitation systems.


The MSQ - Idea

01 Mar 2017

n summer 2015, Georg Ecker (Austrian Red Cross) and I met with William Cater from the IFRC at Austrian Red Cross Mass Sanitation Emergency Response Unit training in Styria. During the training, William held a presentation on the outcomes of the Emergency Sanitation Project Phase I.


Read the Humanitarian WASH Innovation Catalogue

Learn more about this WASH project, and many others, in our Humanitarian WASH Innovation Catalogue.

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