Having suitable toilet facilities for the community is essential to good public health and sanitation. Failure to remove sewage properly can result in diseases that can run rife through the population, devastating families. However traditional toilets are often out of the reach of people who live in developing countries. The solutions that we have in developed countries are too expensive and complicated to implement in the developing world and therefore another suitable alternative must be found that can easily be put in place, even in the world’s poorest communities.
What is a Composting Toilet?
Composting toilets are ones which involve storing the waste inside an on-site compartment within the toilet itself. Natural aerobic decomposition is then employed to turn the waste into compost which is rich in nutrients and which can help to improve the growth of crops.
One of the greatest advantages of these systems is that they are either completely water-less or they only use a tiny amount of water, making them a much better choice in communities where water resources are scarce than the toilet systems that we use in the developed world which require large amounts of water in order to flush waste away.
Although many people believe that composting toilets produce bad odors, in fact this is a common misconception, and if they are designed and executed properly no smell is produced meaning that the community can enjoy fresh air without unpleasant smells. Also, properly designed composting toilets are very safe as they kill all of the pathogens which can be carried in waste and which can cause illnesses and diseases.
There are several styles of composting toilet, ranging from extremely basic DIY versions which are very similar to an ordinary bucket, right up to extravagant and expensive models which are able to separate liquids from solids in order to create both a liquid fertilizer and a solid compost. However, whatever kind of composting toilet is used, the basic premise remains the same – that of turning ordinary human waste into a compost that is full of nutrients.
Why Introduce Developing Countries To Composting Toilets?
When it comes to sanitation in developing countries there are two primary problems which face the population. Firstly, there are issues around the effective removal of sewage, and secondly, there is a lack of available water which can be used to remove the waste.
Composting toilets represent the ideal solution for sanitation in developing countries since the sewage is not flushed away using water and therefore no plentiful water source is required, and also the sewage itself is not removed but instead is turned into a useful product that can actually benefit the community by being used to fertilize the soil and to grow healthy crops.
It would be virtually impossible to implement the kind of toilets that we have in the developed world in developing countries due to the amount of infrastructure and money that would be required. Installing supplies of running water or sewage systems would be impractical and far too costly in these communities at the present time, but composting toilets offer a fantastic, simple and affordable solution which can address the current issues.
Developing countries frequently have no existing sewage systems and therefore human waste cannot easily be removed from people’s houses. The result of this is that health problems and disease arise because of the poor sanitation, and pathogens which are carried in human waste make children and adults alike very sick.
This only adds to the country’s problems, since there are also very few healthcare services available and the facilities which would be necessary to cope with all of the health problems which arise from sewage and waste disposal are severely lacking. As composting toilets are clean and safe, getting rid of human waste without any illnesses being caused in the population, they are the perfect sanitary solution.
Composting toilets keep waste in a single place, killing off all pathogens that it may contain, and converting it into a nutrient dense compost. Although there is still some controversy about whether human waste derived compost should be used on crops which are going to be consumed by humans, the compost which is produced by composting toilets is extremely nutrient rich and so is very suitable for use for other purposes.
As developing countries frequently have no well systems or running water, it is a time consuming and arduous task to gather water, and this makes it an extremely precious commodity. Communities would not be open to the idea of wasting this precious resource on flushing away human waste when it could be used for much more important purposes such as drinking and washing.
This is why composting toilets are such a suitable alternative. They often require no water at all, and even the ones that do require only a fraction of the amount used in a flushing system. This means that people are free to use their water for bathing, cooking and drinking which are clearly much more vital uses of the commodity. It also means that there is no need to make repeated trips during the day to collect large volumes of water. The lack of water required by composting toilets means that they are ideal for use in areas which frequently suffer from droughts as those communities have even less water available for use.
It is easy to see, when all of the facts are taken into account, that composting toilets are a key potential solution to the sewage treatment and water usage problems that are faced by people in developing countries around the world. By supplying these communities with composting toilets, less water will need to be used and human waste will be dealt with in a safe and clean way. As an added bonus, many composting toilet models are extremely easy and cheap to produce, and this means that supplying composting toilets to people in developing countries is also affordable.
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