This project will enhance the sustainability of 63 ecological latrines by replacing the current metal toilet inserts with new inserts made of fiber glass and plastic
Prior to 2011 in the rural village of Paisaje and the peri-urban neighborhoods of Rodeo, Paraíso and Litoral located in the outskirts of the city of Montero approximately half of the population used shallow latrines to eliminate excrement while the other half defecated in the open air. The pit latrines caused problems of odor and attracted flies and insects which acted as vectors, bringing the contamination inside the home. This greatly impacted the health of the communities. The situation was constantly aggravated by long periods of rain, causing the latrines to overflow and expose more excrement.
To improve sanitation in these communities, from January, 2011 to March, 2012, with funding from Rotary International, Etta Projects implemented a Comprehensive Sanitation Improvements Project using the ecological latrine model. The ecological latrine (otherwise known as the dry composting latrine) is a successful, low cost, eco-friendly alternative that has been implemented by numerous NGOs throughout Bolivia and the rest of the developing world, including INCADE, Water for People and UNICEF. In total, Etta Projects completed a total of 69 latrines in the four communities.
Currently the project has observed many successes. Based on our most recent assessment of the latrines, 87% (60 of the 69 families) were correctly maintaining their latrine (latrine had the necessary materials, had no sign of odors, were clean and sanitary). The one problem that we did observe is the deterioration of the toilets.
The most commonly used toilet model for the ecological bathroom is made out of cement. When one chamber is filled, the family needs to move the toilet from one chamber to the other.
The cement toilet is heavy and fragile and therefore frequently cracks and breaks when moving the toilet between the two chambers or removing it to clean the bowl. In fact, based on an evaluation of past ecological latrines (built prior to this project by other NGOs) revealed that more than 65% of the cement toilets were broken or cracked, and of those more than 35% were not in use due to extensive damages.
The problems related to the cement toilets motivated our staff to investigate and experiment with other options for the toilet. We aimed to develop a more durable model with less weight that would be easier to clean and transport that could be utilized in our pilot ecological latrine project.
With support from local Engineers and a team of students and teachers from Engineers Without Borders we designed a light weight, easy-to-clean, easy-to-transport, affordable alternative. Like the traditional model, the base of the toilet is made of cement. The base, however, is built directly into the latrine floor. There are two round cylinders built above each chamber instead of two holes as in the traditional model. The cylinders are secured into the floor with iron rods. Etta Projects designed a metal insert made from sheet metal that is .9 mm thick. The insert slides directly into the cement cylinder in use. The metal attachment creates the division for the two holes in the bowl of the toilet. A normal plastic toilet seat can be attached to the metal divider for added comfort.
When it comes time to transferring to the second chamber or cleaning the toilet, the family only needs to remove the light-weight metal divider (instead of the entire heavy toilet seat). Since it is not as heavy and cumbersome as the first model, families can frequently remove the metal insert to clean it, therefore promoting a more sanitary bathroom.
Despite the important advantages that the new toilet model brings to the sustainability of the ecological bathroom, we began to discover some setbacks months after constructing the latrines. The metal insert began to oxidize and rust. The black industrial paint that we used over the metal peeled away. Participating families grew apprehensive to clean the insert because cleaning caused further removal of the paint.
As the inserts continue to deteriorate, 63 latrines are at high-risk for incorrect use or discontinued use of their ecological latrine. We believe that by changing the material of the insert not only can we create a more sustainable model for this latrine, but also a viable alternative for future ecological latrine projects.
LocationPaisaje, El Rodeo, Paraiso, and Litoral, Paisaje is in the Muncipality of Warnes. Rodeo, Paraiso and Litoral are in the Municipality of Montero. Both Municipalities are in the Department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Primary Focus: Sanitation - Households
Secondary Focus: Hygiene Education
People Getting Safe Drinking Water: 0
School Children Getting Water: 0
People Getting Sanitation: 361
361 people; including 63 families, 95 men, 114 women and 152 children
People Getting Other Benefits: 361
From January, 2011 to March, 2012 the 63 participating families constructed an ecological latrine. In addition a minimum of one person per family participated in hygiene and sanitation training (117 people completed the education program by attending a minimum of six of the eight workshops). Seven local women received training to be Sanitation Promoters. 126 children participated in a Children’s Program, consisting of workshops and activities related to water, hygiene and sanitation.
Start Date: 2012-09-01
Completion Date: 2012-12-01
The ecological latrine is unique in that it built above ground and does not require plumbing or water for usage. The bathroom is built on top of a double vault system (the chambers are divided by a thick cement wall), with one chamber in use at any given time. A toilet seat with two holes separates urine from fecal matter. Only fecal matter enters the disposal chamber where it is contained. When the chamber fills, the toilet seat is moved to the second chamber and fecal matter in the first chamber begins the composting process. When the second chamber is filled, compost from the first chamber is removed, and the process starts over. After each use of the latrine, dry material (ash or lime) is added to prevent odor, repel bugs and support decomposition. Toilet paper can be thrown into the latrine and will not disrupt decomposition. The process of alternating usage of the pits and excavating compost must be maintained for the toilet to function and be sustainable. The above-ground model eliminates risk of fecal matter leaking into ground water.
The toilet of an ecological toilet looks similar to a traditional toilet; however the bowl is divided into a small front hole for the urine and a larger rear hole for the fecal matter. The urine leaves the bathroom structure through a tube (most often buried under the ground a few meters away from the latrine), while the fecal matter falls directly into the chamber. There is a round hole built into the top side of each chamber creating two holes in the cement floor of the bathroom. The base of the cement toilet fits directly into the hole of the chamber that is in use, allowing the fecal matter to fall into the chamber. The second chamber not in use is covered by a small cement top.
Prior to initiating the project Etta Projects visited over eight villages throughout the municipalities of Savvedra and San Pedro to evaluate the sustainability and impact of the project. The most prevalent challenge was the cement toilet seat. Participants of these past project complained of the toilets’ heavy weight and fragile material. We observed many broken toilets as well as toilets with cracks.
Our team was determined to design a new toilet that was lighter and more durable. We accomplished this, through the design of a metal insert described above. Despite the benefits of the actual design, the material used proved to lack sustainability.
Project staff consulted with various experts to investigate options to replace the metal insert. Our combined efforts led us to a new model that utilizes the same concept as the current model, but replaces the metal inserts with a new insert made out of fiber glass and dipped in plastic. The total cost of the new insert is $55 per latrine. The company Industrias SER located in Parque Industrial Manzana in the city of Santa Cruz is manufacturing the new toilet insert. They provided us with a guarantee of ten years.
In March of 2012, Etta Projects purchased inserts for six families in the village Paisaje. Since then, we have been doing continual monitoring and evaluation. Thus far the new model has proven to be sustainable showing no signs of deterioration. This project requests the purchase of 63 more latrines so that all 69 families can have a sustainable toilet.
Yes, the project will be done in one phase.
The first component of the latrine project in each community was to raise public awareness of the project and organize within the community. In each of the communities meetings were held with the members of the village, during which sanitation and health topics were discussed, such as “water related illnesses” and “The danger of excrement”. These meetings were designed to demonstrate and underline the importance of implementing an adequate sanitation system, with the end result of improving the level of personal health and hygiene.
The workshops achieved their objective, and the population actively supported the implementation of an adequate sanitation system for eliminating fecal matter.
In the second series of workshops two themes were touched upon: “Different options for an adequate sanitation system” and “The Benefits of dry ecological bathrooms.” The families understood the benefits and elected to move forward with the project. Families began to organize and sign up to participate in the project.
Sanitation Promoters were elected from the community by the community. These Sanitation Promoters led and directed the entire project, including training workshops and monitoring & evaluation activities. The promoters received training and motivation that will allow them to continue driving the Project once it is over. Throughout the project they made household visits with the families to provide and reinforce the sanitation training. They also used a stoplight system (categories green, yellow and red) to monitor of correct usage and maintenance of the ecological bathrooms.
The Second Phase of the Project was the self-construction of the ecological bathrooms. Construction staff met with the chosen families in each of the four communities to explain the process of constructing the bathrooms.
The constructions began in the village of Paisaje in the Municipality of Warnes and laster moved to the peri-urban neighborhood in Montero; Rodeo, Paraíso and Litoral. The ecological bathrooms were built in phases with the participation and help of each family. This allowed them to put into practice what they had learned during the construction workshops, and understand how the bathrooms were built in order to later be capable of carrying out adequate maintenance of the bathrooms when necessary.
The project had excellent participation both in the training workshops and the construction process. Men, women and children actively participated in the activities. Almost all families are correctly maintaining their latrine; however it is critical we replace the metal insert with a more sustainable option to guarantee long-term sanitation improvement.
The Municipality of Warnes changed mayors two times during the course of the project. Each turnover caused a delay in the advancements of securing local government support, despite the fact that the first mayor signed a legal agreement committing the municipality’s support to the project. Unfortunately the project was completed in Paisaje before obtaining a financial contribution from the local government. In Montero, the local municipality was extremely active. They participated in all phases of the project and frequently visited the neighborhoods to contribute to a training session or oversee the construction process. They also made a financial contribution to the project towards construction materials totaling $5,912.
Etta Projects worked with all four communities in water projects prior to the ecological latrine project. After actively participating in the hygiene and sanitation workshops during the water projects, community members recognized the importance of improved sanitation. They solicited Etta Projects and their local municipality to support a sanitation project. From the start this was a community-driven effort. Data shows participants are invested in using and maintaining their latrine. We are confident this project will have long-term, positive results once we resolve the toilet issue.
The families that are currently utilizing the ecological latrines have totally transformed their sanitation system. If they continue to correctly maintain their new ecological latrines, they will have a way in which to safely dispose of their human waste for approximately 20 years. Furthermore, the educational component of the project that promotes safe hygiene habits will continue to contribute to improved health inthe community.
All sanitation technologies require maintenance to function properly, and the dry composting latrine is no different. Tubes need to be checked periodically for blockage. Vent pipes should also be checked to be sure they are not covered with debris or nests. The compost in the chamber in-use should be stirred and spread evening in the chamber with a stick. Once a chamber is filled the compost needs to be removed from the second chamber, and the toilet insert needs to be move to the alternate side. The toilet not in use needs to be covered. The compost can be buried or used as fertilizers. Urine pipes should be flushed periodically to avoid accumulation of deposits, which can block the flow and generate unpleasant odors. After each use dry material such as ash should be thrown into the chamber along with toilet paper. The toilet insert should be removed and cleaned continually. The annual cost is minimum for common use.
Maintenance Cost: $3
The project will maintain its current schedule of monitoring and evaluating the project by making monthly visits to the four villages. This project tracks: use and maintenance of latrine, presence of common latrine problems (odor, insect-born disease, flooding, ground water contamination), presence of all necessary materials (stirring rod, dry material, toilet paper/paper, etc), satisfaction of the latrine, use of compost, sustainability of both the latrine and toilet inserts.
Co Funding Amount: $250
Etta Projects will provide $250 towards in-kind contributions. Rotary International contributed $47,750 to fund the implementation of 69 latrines (included in this funding in project staff, capacity building, transportation, and administrative training). The Municipality of Montero contributed an additional $5,912 towards construction materials. Etta Projects also purchased 6 inserts, totaling $330.
Community Contribution Amount: $2,072
Each family contributed 350 Bs (or $51.47) towards their ecological latrine, totaling $3551.47. Families also provided manual labor towards the construction of their latrine.