Friday, November 22, 2019

Some of the eco-toilets built by Green Belt Movement at Rongai grounds. The environment conservation advocate says the toilets are useful in conserving the environment.

The Green Belt Movement is investing in a new ecofriendly toilet technology that replaces the traditional pit latrines in a bid to increase access to sanitation facilities in schools within rural areas in Nakuru County.

Eco-bio toilet is an odorless toilet that does not need flushing and can serve a school for indefinite period as it consists of an aerobic digester system through which waste is quickly broken down by bacteria.

The Eco-bio toilet project coordinator John Waweru Ngahu says the sanitary facility is designed to be constructed even from locally available and recycled materials such as discarded plastics and steel which ease the cost of construction yet provide s improved control for diseases.

“The way the loo is designed, it will never get filled up so the issue of digging everywhere after every few years will not arise,” says Ngahu

The innovation is designed to provide an inexpensive and easy-to-operate alternative for traditional waste disposal.

Ngahu asserts that tests have proven that the Eco bio toilet system which treats human waste at the source with no need for transport does not contaminate the environment or groundwater.

“It has no energy requirements and no heavy infrastructure. It also yields pathogen-free water that can be used for other purposes” he states.

Green Belt Movement Project Coordinator John Waweru inspecting a newly constructed eco-bio toilet.

The three year project which seeks to address growing concerns about the sorry state of toilets in learning institutions across the county is being piloted in six primary schools before being eventually rolled out in 56 more primary schools.

It is equipped with a ventilation system which includes a fan that uses wind power while the roof is made from translucent material that allows in adequate light to rule out the need for an electric bulb at night.

The ventilation unit ensures that the toilet remains odourless and pathogen-free in the process of breaking down waste.

Ngahu explains that Eco-bio toilet has separate compartments for urine and stool which enables separation, and easier management of solid waste.

A pack of bacteria is poured into the loo after every two months to aid in conversion of the waste. Urine is then turned into Ammonium Phosphate (Urea), a highly concentrated liquid fertilizer while the stool is converted to ash.

“The liquid fertilizer is pathogen free and odourless, safe to use and perfect for agriculture.

This innovation makes it possible to reduce environmental pollution and limit water wastage contrary to conventional toilets found in homes and learning institutions,” states the Project coordinator

To Ngahu, the Green Belt Movement initiative dubbed “Improving access to safe clean water, sanitation and hygiene promotion in Nakuru County” is the perfect solution for the poor state of school toilets in the country and is confident that the concept will address sanitation issues faced by most schools.

“When you dig a pit latrine, you will use a lot of resources and every two or three years you have to do it all over again but at Green Belt we are donating the ecofriendly toilets for free,” he says.

At Kianjoya Primary School in Nakuru’s Pipeline estate, the six new-look loos have phased out pit latrines.

“The children no longer go to the pit latrines we have. They would rather queue to use the eco-bio toilet” says Peter Muteru, the head teacher.

He says the new toilets had reduced the school’s water and electricity demands. The institution has 700 pupils.

The new toilet is also more child-friendly than the accident-prone traditional pit latrines.

At Likia Primary School within Njoro-Sub-County where the Green Belt movement has constructed 8eEco-bio toilets, the head teacher Catherine Mwangi says the initiative has improved health and dignity of the over 600 pupils from poor backgrounds.

“Women and girls are the biggest beneficiaries of Eco-bio toilet technology. The loos provide them a sense of security and dignity and contribute to girls’ school attendance” observes Ms Mwangi

UN-Habitat estimates that over 500 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have inadequate access to sanitation.

“In Kenya, approximately 19 million people lack access to sufficient sanitation, a cause for a host of bacterial diseases and infections. That’s an alarming statistic and signals the need for something to be done.

Nakuru County Deputy Director of Partnerships Dr. Torome Kochei says the devolved unit in conjunction with the public health department was supporting Green belt movement’s initiative to improve sanitation in primary schools

The shortage of toilets and proper sanitation public primary schools is still a major concern. Many lack access to adequate sanitation, which increases the risk of water contamination and diseases.

“In the 2017-2018 period the county reported 300,000 cases of diarrhea diseases and 600,000 upper respiratory tract infections all caused by poor sanitation. This project has the potential to bring down the disease burden in the county,” says Dr. Kochei

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