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Eco toilet conserve waters, provides fertiliser

Ms. Yu Yamakami, a Japanese eco-toilet developer, explains how the toilet functions in one of the sites at Kitengela, Athi River. The toilet does not use water to flush and is odourless making it most suitable for Kenya’s peri-urban areas.  [  PHOTO ;   STANDARD]

Nairobi, Kenya: Imagine yourself in the arid hills of Makueni in Machakos County where water is scarce. You walk for miles in search of the precious commodity. And when you get it, it is mainly for drinking, cooking and washing. That you would use it t

o flush a toilet, even if you had a modern house, is most unlikely.

That explains why, like most other parts of rural Africa, as well as many other developing countries in Asia and Latin America, many households use smelly pit latrines.

Yet these countries are part of a world that flushes out up to 20 per cent of its drinking water down toilets. A lot of water going to waste!

Pit latrines, therefore, become the obvious choice for most homesteads. But the latrines are unhygienic and significantly contribute to spread of diseases. This explains why, according to the UN, the world has over 2.6 billion people in developing countries without proper sanitation including clean toilets. Also, over one billion people, mainly in the developing countries, relieve themselves in the open despite the celebrating World Toilet Day every September 19.

But the days when Kenya’s rural and peri-urban populations shall contend with unhygienic pit latrines may end soon. That is if a modern, waterless eco-toilet that is being developed and perfected for local use finally becomes available to the public. On the face of it, the toilet looks like the ordinary flush toilet.

raised above

It has a sitting bowl and a facility that mechanically separates solid and liquid wastes. It is raised above the ground to accommodate containers that hold the wastes separately. Even when both wastes go together, the mechanism separates each into its correct container.

The toilet, called Eco-Sani, is being developed at a site in Kitengela by LIXIL Corporation of Japan in collaboration with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

“This new toilet remains odourless and easy to clean because of the material used to make it,” says Yu Yamakami, a Japanese involved in the development of the toilet at the Kitengela Saidia Children’s home.

“The wastes also pass through a treatment process before being deposited.”

The reason the eco-toilet remains odourless is simple. When urine and solid wastes are mixed - like in a pit latrine - both start to ferment and emit a foul smell.

In the eco-toilet, this fermentation does not occur or is minimised and there is no smell produced. In fact, the products are so odour-less that one can comfortably carry them around to empty them from the containers whenever necessary.

Yu says once the wastes are separated, they can be used as fertiliser, a concept which has been embraced in other parts of the world. “The product will be available as soon as we complete all the necessary tests and prove to the public that it will be cheaper than the ordinary flush toilet,” says Yu.