In the emerging African cities, urbanisation is different from anything the world has seen so far. Therefore, it is necessary to look at new systems. Can the Circular Town approach contribute to solve this challenge?
Circular Town approach
The core of the Circular Town approach consists of turning waste into a source of energy. Selection of organic solid waste, liquid waste from public toilets and operating the bio digester is the key operation side of the Safi Sana team. Local employment and adding value to waste is a key aspect.
The first operating pilot of Safi Sana in Ashiaman in the Accra region was the test for the larger bio digester being built there. Meanwhile the dialogue about optimizing the output of the plant started between Safi Sana and DASUDA team members. Looking for potential new locations to develop the second full size plant Kumasi was already mentioned as location.
The first stage of the case consisted of testing the feasibility of the Safi Sana concept in relation to horticulture vegetable production and inclusive affordable housing. After studying Kumasi area, three locations were selected and studied on potential circular chains looking at amounts of waste, waste collection methods, public toilets and contract situations, land availability for the plant and adjacent space for agri-horticulture or nursery and inclusive housing.
No feasible business case
Although the team was aware that it might be difficult to reach all objectives, it still was a disappointment that a business case is not feasible in one of the locations with the information we could gather by ourselves and by the potential local partners involved in the process.
No waste of effort
However the effort was not wasted. First because in the current process of the Ashaiman plant of Safi Sana the nursery aspect, as efficient use of the residue organic soil material from the digesters’ process, is now established as an add on to the plant and part of the loop. Secondly, insight has been gained in the best way to work efficiently through data gathering. Thirdly, in a second attempt one of the town assemblies of Kumasi provided the right insight in current figures, opening up potential new opportunities.
Need for new systems
The Kumasi Circular Town project was conceived as both instrumental to close the loop on output of the digester process, as it was studying the market potential for implementing the waste-to-energy concept in another city. Although new systems might trip and fall a few times, in the emerging African city this is the only direction to move forward quickly. To even think that traditional systems like sewerages with central treatment plants can be implemented, maintained and, most important, paid for, is not excepting that this urbanisation is different from anything the world has seen so far.