2.6 billion people in the world do not have access to safe sanitation. One billion people live in urban slums, and that number is growing. Slum residents currently have a lose-lose choice between overcrowded public toilets, open defecation, and private latrines that are expensive to build and maintain. Few squatters and renters can invest in an immobile asset like a latrine. Narrow alleys make it difficult and unhygienic to empty the latrines that do exist. This results in dangerous and undignified living conditions and significant environmental degradation.
As part of multiple teams, I have helped to develop portable, low-cost household toilet and entrepreneurial service models to deliver safe, dignified sanitation to vulnerable urban populations.
My research seeks to develop modeling and assessment tools that facilitate the scaling of operations in communities around the world. As part of this effort, we seek to identify the key cost and revenue drivers of household container-based human waste collection systems, as well as the data that are necessary to assess the system feasibility and plan in new locations. I also serve as the Chair of the Container-Based Sanitation Alliance.
Read more about the solution and associated research:
The Cost of Water Fetching
This research focuses on the cost and benefits of rural water infrastructure in northern Mozambique. Specifically, I use data gathered from indirect calorimetry measurements in laboratory settings, field-based caloric energy expenditure measurements, and large household surveys, to calculate a more complete set of costs associated with water fetching. The goal of this work is to understand how the burden of water fetching (often a gendered activity) is accounted for when placing new water sources.
Read the research:
K. Russel, et al. Estimating energy expenditure of head-hauling water and grain grinding from heart rate monitor measurements in northern Mozambique. Public Health Nutrition. Find It Here
Landscape for Humanity
I am a steering committee member and project lead for Landscape for Humanity (L4H). The initiative is researching the use of modular landscape approaches to help augment basic amenities for vulnerable, informal, and houseless communities.
I helped to co-found the re.source sanitation research initiative during my time as a graduate student at Stanford University. Re.source continues to be a venue for students and researchers to prototype extremely low-cost, sanitation and water services solutions for dense informal settlements and rural communities.