Erick’s Hope is supporting the Ecological Sanitation Latrines for Elukho Primary School
Elukho primary school was started in 1977 as a primary school after having been a nursery school for many years. The school is about 7km away from Kakamega County Headquarters, off Kakamega Ingotse road, Kakamega Central Sub-county, and Lurambi Division, Butsotso East location, Shirakalu sub-Location, Butsotso East ward, Elukho village. The school has a total population of 657 pupils; 336 boys and 321 girls in primary level while those in early childhood Education are 59 boys and 51 girls. It has 16 TSC teachers, 2 PTA teachers and 5 support staff.
The school does not have water in the school compound but it draws water for use from a spring which is 500 metres away from the school. The spring was protected by Gift of Rotary Club Victoria. The pupils waste a lot of their precious time going to fetch water from the spring. The discharge of the spring is Some of the pupils bringing water from the spring 2 not good hence the pupils struggle to draw water from the spring. The pupils often have to “fight” with the community who feel they have a right to draw water first.
The World Health Organization states that: Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and feces. Inadequate sanitation is a major cause of disease world-wide and improving sanitation is known to have a significant beneficial impact on health both in households and across communities. The word ‘sanitation’ also refers to the maintenance of hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection and wastewater disposal Ecological sanitation – an approach that tries to emulate nature through the recycling of nutrients and water from human and animal wastes in a hygienically safe manner Ecological Sanitation is based on the belief that human waste is more than just waste and that it can be handled in a way that not only protects the health and welfare of people but turns it into a valuable resource. There are three major objectives that an ecological sanitation project seeks to achieve:
1. Safe, healthy and sustainable management of human waste.
2. Using human waste as an agricultural resource to benefit people.
3. Protecting the environment from the pollution generated by human waste.
If all three of these objectives are met human waste management is no longer a problem but a solution. The needs of people and that of the environment are addressed creating a mutually beneficial relationship that is sustainable over the long term.
There are two types of collection chambers, one for the urine and one for the feces. The collection chamber for the urine can be accessed through the front of the latrine and is connected to the Eco slab by a pipe which leads the urine into the urine collection bucket. The urine is stored in the bucket until full at which point it is removed for the second stage of its storage. The collection chamber for the feces is directly under the Eco slab and can be accessed through the back of the latrine, which is painted black to increase temperature. The feces falls in to the Ecosan bucket and when it is full it is removed and the feces is brought to the storage shed where it is stored for 6-9 months while it finishes decomposing.
The storage shed is where the feces is brought for the second stage of its decomposition. It is stored here for 6-8 months, after this point it can be used as fertilizer. The shed should have conditions for decomposition.
What allows the feces and urine to turn from waste to resource is the separation of the two. When urine and feces are mixed the bacteria in the urine feeds on the fecal matter creating a foul odor and making the material dangerous to handle. By separating the two they both become less dangerous and easier to use. Feces is filled with different kinds of pathogens that can harm people and the environment. In order for feces to be useful these pathogens must be destroyed.
Cycle of Feces
The feces is initially stored inside the Ecosan latrine structure in a bucket that is carefully lined with plastic. After each deposit of feces the user dumps some ash into the hole to mix with the feces. The ash absorbs the moisture in the feces drying it out as well as killing of bacteria by changing the pH of the fecal matter from acidic to alkaline, a state that most bacteria cannot survive. The chamber that the bucket is residing in is also painted black increasing the temperature inside and further creating an environment that pathogens will struggle to survive in. The feces sits in the bucket until it is about ¾ full and then it is removed. At this point while the material is less dangerous to handle then normal feces, whoever is handling it should be wearing gloves and take precautions. The feces is brought to a storage shed that is located close by and there it is dumped out for long term storage. The shed is mainly open allowing for the easy passage of air to reduce the humidity around the feces. The sun is also able to beat down on the feces reducing the pathogens through radiation and by raising the temperature. After 6-8 months of being in this state the feces will have no odor and feel like soil, while it is not completely sterile it is as safe to handle as soil in a garden. At this point the feces or fertilizer can be brought to a local garden where it should be spread out and then covered with about 10 cm of soil and crops grown.
Cycle of Urine
When the urine exits the user it goes into the urine division depression and travels through a pipe ending in a dark plastic bucket inside the urine collection chamber. The chamber should be well sealed with little ventilation to maintain the urine. When the urine bucket is full it should be brought out of the chamber and the urine poured into the larger container in the storage shed. The urine is stored for 2 months during this time it will become completely sterile. After the 2 months the urine can be brought again in a sealed dark container to a field where it can be sprinkled on growing plants, helping the plants to grow.
Benefits of an Ecosan Latrine
Ecosan latrines create a healthier environment and protects people from the pathogens that feces carries. There are four main ways that feces and the pathogens it carries reach humans: fingers, flies, fields and fluids. The Ecosan eliminates the latter three. The Ecosan latrine attracts very few flies because the destruction of the pathogens and separation of urine and feces reduces the overall smell of the facility, which is what attracts the flies. Pathogens reach humans through fields when people choose to defecate in the bush rather than in latrines, a common reason for doing this is uncleanliness and smell. The Ecosan latrine smells fine and if kept clean provides people with a better alternative to a field preventing contamination from that area. Finally contamination from fluids comes from feces getting into the water system by seeping through soil or some other method. The Ecosan prevents this by containing the feces it areas it cannot escape while it is contaminated and by destroying the pathogens so that when it is exposed to the environment it is safe. With three of the ways feces can reach humans covered people can focus on personal hygiene to prevent contamination by fingers.
Ecosan latrines have a lot of environments benefits that pit latrines cannot offer. A pit latrine will eventually fill up and when this happens the entire facility is useless and another must be built. Not only is having to rebuild latrines costly and time consuming but on a long term scale impossible because of limited space on school compounds. The Ecosan latrine solves this problem as it never fills up so there is no wasted space. The Ecosan also produces fertilizer which can be used by the local community and school. There are also lower risks of pollution with Ecosan latrines because the pathogens inside feces that make it dangerous are destroyed rather than just stored underground and while the feces is dangerous it is stored in areas that prevent it from seeping into the ground.