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A toilet turns poo into fertilizer

Communities in Malawi are building composting toilets that, combined with fire ash, turn manure into usable fertilizer. Diarrhea is the leading killer in Malawi, and sanitation solutions of this sort are deeply impactful for public health and for community resources.

The South Africa Node writes,

"In Malawi, international NGO, Water Aid, and a local NGO partner called Training Support for Partners have begun training community members to build composting toilets called Skyloos. The toilets consist of two brick-pits, with a concrete slab covering them and a metal access cover at the rear. Waste drops through a hole in the slab into one of the pits, and ash from cooking fires is regularly thrown on top. The ash raises the alkalinity and along with high temperatures from the sun shining on the metal covers, kills off harmful pathogens. The feces decompose into a safe, rich fertilizer which is then used to grow crops."

Implications

The South Africa Node emphasizes the importance of pro-poor design:

"Projects that introduce solutions designed with the poor in mind (low cost, low maintenance, multiple use products) and with the intention of turning the recipients of aid into customers and participants, who decide what is valuable to them, have significant potential in terms of introducing sustainable solutions to issues such as sanitation."

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