At the beginning of 2011 at Namwendwa Primary School there were 1125 Students (546 boys and 579 girls) and 19 teachers and support staff yet there were only a total of 18 latrines.
That means there were around 64 people to each toilet. As you can imagine, with such a limited number of latrines to such a large amount of students, they quickly become dirty and unhygienic. Not only is this a health risk to the students, but it has also been identified as a factor contributing to enrolment drop-outs. What is worse is that the latrines are now full, creating an immediate need for more toilets as identified by the Ugandan committee and Namwendwa community.
After suggestions from and consultation with the Ugandan committee, combined with extensive research by the Australian committee into different toilet options, One Village has decided that composting toilets are a far better option than the traditional latrines, as they will not ‘fill up’, pose minimal risk to the water supply, have improved sanitation and hygiene rates and have agricultural benefits.
The composting toilets use a specially designed pan to separate the urine from the faeces. The faeces are collected in a basket below the raised toilet platform and the urine diverted and collected separately.
After each use of the toilet, a small amount of ash, husks, sawdust or some other dry material which can be sourced locally will be tipped down the hole. When the basket is full, it is taken out to be dried in specially designed and covered composting pits on a rotating basis until the material is sufficiently dried (approximately 6 months). Once the faeces has been sufficiently dried it can be safely used as compost on the agricultural plot at the Primary School, just like any other manure. Even the urine can be put to use: once diluted in water, the urine mix can be sprayed on crops as a fertiliser, with good, proven results in maize growth in particular.
The EcoSAN composting toilets are something completely new to Namwendwa, and as with many changes, there will be a period of adjustment. One Village has prepared for this in several ways.
1. We have chosen a design which involves a squat pan, so while the function of the toilets will be a little different, the actual excreting position will be the same.
2. It is essential that the toilets are used correctly, otherwise the urine will not be properly separated from the faeces and it will take considerably longer to dry out. However the school environment is the perfect place for this and educational sessions and materials have been developed by the Ugandan Committee.
3. Members from both the Ugandan committee and the Australian committee have been on a field trip to visit a village in another district in Uganda where the composting toilets have been implemented. These members will now be able to take change of toilet maintenance and education and pass this practical information onto other community members.