Providing water and proper sanitation to poor communities by 2015 is one of the United Nations targets for this millennium. In South Africa many communities aspire to waterborne sanitation. However, there is a technology gap for decentralized and sustainable waterborne sanitation systems capable of treating domestic wastewater (Foxon et al., 2006). Although domestic wastewater is more commonly treated using aerobic processes, anaerobic processes may be more appropriate for decentralized applications since they do not require aeration. Research is currently being undertaken to understand the behavior of a combined ABR-MBR unit for treating domestic wastewater. In this study, the anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR) was investigated by analyzing physico-chemical and biochemical data from experiments on a laboratory-scale ABR. This anaerobic reactor was treating complex particulate wastewater made up of sludge from the ventilated improved pit latrine toilets (known as VIP sludge). The main focus of this study was to establish the relationship between the increasing organic loading rates and the effluent characteristics (such as chemical oxygen demand: COD and extrapolymeric substances.