Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Waterless Compost Toilets

June 10, 2011

I have mentioned before the biggest obstacle in doing any kind of aid work is trying to grasp of the culture, be it the poor, Blacks, Iraqis, or Samoans, in which you find yourself and determining what the needs really are. The chances of being misread and doing the exact opposite of what you want to do are great, even among those experienced in such matters. One example is waterless toilets.

Several areas of Samoa are in the rain shadow of the mountains and suffer from acute water shortages, especially now during the “dry season” when the trade winds blow from the southeast. Mountain water sources dry up and water tanks empty.

The biggest user of water in residences is the modern flush toilet. When a grant became available to install waterless toilets in these villages, the dried waste of which could also be used as fertilizer, it seemed like a win-win situation. Village meetings were held and the proposal accepted to build a test toilet next to a public meeting house.

Now the toilet is branded as a hand of the devil. I guess there is a biblical reference although no one really knows what it is, against spreading human waste upon the land. The toilet sits in its new building, a pristine example of both sides not understanding the other, or maybe those accepting the grant did not consult with the “Men of God”. After all you should never look a gift horse in the mouth.

1 comment:

Carol Steinfeld said...

Remind them they don't have to spread the "waste" on the land. They can bury it (same destination as pit latrine and septage). There are waterless toilet projects throughout the Pacific. It would be great if someone attempted to catalog some of these efforts. A successful example is/was Pohnpei.