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Project Safer Management and Reliable Treatment (SMaRT) seeks to optimise the deployment of lime for faecal sludge treatment in densely populated humanitarian settings, reducing operational costs and improving efficacy. This will be achieved by the application and verification of field-based solutions for lime characterization & treatment.

PURPOSE OF FIELD TRIP

This initial site visit to Kutupalong–Balukhali Mega Camp Cox’s Bazar (18th-28th January 2024) sought to transfer lab-based approaches to the field setting and allow the project team to address the following five Research Questions:

  1. Is it possible to reduce overall lime usage whilst maintaining treatment efficacy?
  2. Is it possible to reduce reliance on non-locally sourced lime?
  3. Is it possible to successfully characterise faecal sludge (FS) in the field?
  4. Is it possible to simplify lime dosing protocols whilst optimising treatment (SOP’s)?
  5. Is lime suitable for the safe containment and treatment of clinical waste streams?

ACTIVITIES AND OUTCOMES FROM VISIT

  • Established lab-based and portable E. coli (bacterial indicator) detection (membrane filtration & portable Compartmental Bag kits)*
  • Established lab-based, rapid bacteriophage (viral indicator) detection for the first time in an emergency setting*
  • Visited Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants (FSTP1 & FSTP2) & their laboratory facilities operated by MSF and BRAC, respectively.
  • Established lime quality testing for the first time in an emergency setting*
  • Familiarisation and team building with MSF, BRAC and UoB project team (WatSan lab personnel and pit emptying operators)
  • Established pilot lime trials at FSTP1 (5 x 50 L faecal sludge, 4 x 5 L of lime suspensions (5g/L, 10g/L, 15g/L, 20g/L) and 1 x 5 L H2O*
  • Initial testing of FS from mechanically emptied communal and clinical septic tanks and from piped communal household latrines from across the camp

*Performed by laboratory staff from MSF and BRAC following lab-based training

STAFF INVOLVED

James Ebdon (Prof of Environmental Microbiology and Project Lead) University of Brighton (UoB), UK, Dr Diogo Da Silva (Senior Lecturer in Environmental Microbiology) UoB, UK; Kit Caulfield (MSF WatSan O&M Manager FSTP1 CXB), Kausar Mohammed Shamim (MSF WatSan Team Leader – CXB), Md. Ziaul Haque (MSF Lab Manager, FSTP1 CXB), Norul Absar (MSF Lab Technician, FSTP1 CXB), Rubayet Toha (BRAC HCMP), Bangladesh, Fatima Ushinbge (BRAC, Laboratory Manager, FSTP2, CXB), Samrat Mohiuddin (BRAC WASH Technician FSTP2).

The trip was also supported by Antoine Gilbert (MSF WatSan Coordinator, Bangladesh), Nick Schriener (WatSan Advisor MSF-OCF) and Tanoy Dewan (BRAC WASH Technical Lead – Humanitarian Crisis Management Programme HCMP, CXB).

Lime trials at FSTP1 with project staff from MSF, BRAC, and UoB.
MSF pit emptying team ensuring safe disposal of clinical waste at a healthcare facility.
Somatic coliphage plates showcasing zones of lysis (plaques) after 3 hours of incubation.
Team members from MSF, BRAC, and UoB undergoing Project SMaRT laboratory training.
Discussions amongst staff from BRAC, MSF and UoB at BRAC- run FSTP2 site.
Prof. Ebdon, Dr. Da Silva from UoB, and Md. Ziaul Haque from MSF discussing phage analysis and conducting lime purity testing.
Staff from BRAC, MSF and UoB at BRAC- run FSTP2 site.

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