Turning waste into value: using human urine to enrich soils for sustainable food production in Uganda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article builds on an action research process involving Ugandan smallholder farmers in collaborative experimentation on the use of human urine as a crop fertilizer. The aim is to explore farmers' perceptions and evaluation of the practice as a potential and partial solution to soil productivity problems. Findings show that urine fertilization is valued as a low-cost and low-risk practice contributing to significant yield increases, suggesting important contributions to food security and income, especially for those who have few options in soil nutrient management. Weaknesses identified by farmers relate mainly to limitations in collection and storage capacity rather than to inherent traits of the practice. In conclusion, urine fertilization should be acknowledged as a valuable strategy for supporting sustainable agricultural intensification. Furthermore, the importance of social norms and cultural perceptions should be recognized but not treated as absolute barriers to diffusion of the practice. Collective action, where groups of farmers jointly develop new procedures and adapt practices, serves as an important arena for social change and negotiation of norms and taboos, which can otherwise limit the acceptance and diffusion of alternative soil management practices. The research finally illustrates that transdisciplinary research can guide pathways towards sustainability through locally anchored and solutions-oriented knowledge generation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-298
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Free keywords

  • Action research
  • Collective action
  • Natural resource management
  • Smallholder agriculture
  • Sustainability science


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