Dignity – green toilets and energy

Harnessing Poo Power

This has been a huge an amazing project for the school – watch this video to see more

Sanitation at its best in Mathare North, is a health hazard. kenyaThere is little or no toilet provision with most people practicing defecation into plastic bags (called flying toilets) – which are then flung out onto the streets, eventually draining into the water courses, which are used both for hydration and washing of clothes.  Research  shows that over 50% of the malnutrition seen in Mathare North is associated with repeated diarrhoea or intestinal worm infections caused from drinking unsafe water or poor sanitation and hygiene.

The aim of our Green Toilets project is to build a new toilet facility for the school children and teachers. The Green Toilets will capture all of the waste from the school and convert it into biogas to provide free energy to cook on, heat water and light the toilets. The school will no longer have to cook on open fires, burning wood and charcoal which costs a significant amount of money, damages respiratory health and is not sustainable. The liquid waste (effluent) will be converted into a rich nutrient solution and sold by the school to local farmers as a fertiliser, raising much needed funds and providing job opportunities for the school.

Bogs and teamThe phase one Green Toilet system was completed in April 2018 and comprised of 17 toilets; 6 cubicles for boys plus a large urinal, and 11 cubicles for girls (including 2 larger toilets with sinks). Handwashing facilities allow the students/teachers to practice safe sanitation thus minimising the spread of infection. A private area with a stove will be installed for the girls so that they can wash their menstrual cups and reusable sanitary pads.

The building of the toilets involved the local community, teachers and students. It was essential that as many people as possible were employed and educated whilst implementing this project; training them how to develop their knowledge in biogas solutions and in turn, working with them to create opportunities and careers to further improve the wider communities in which they live.

The design and construction of the Green Toilets was led by ACEF’s volunteer Dr James Cooper, who is an experienced Project Manager with a PHD in sustainable waste management. He, and his team, visited Brainhouse in April 2017 to scope the project and in February 2018 the foundations were dug and in March 2018 our friends at the Bristol Bioenergy Centre at UWE began work on the “pee power” element of the project. An ACEF team of self-funding volunteers visited in April 2018 to undertake the fitting out of the toilets and importantly the setting up of the biogas digestions. The team also painted the doors of the cubicles with design to recognise key sponsors. At the end of the visit they had trained students and teachers to manage the system and to be able to utilise the biogas which is now coming from the toilets. What an amazing achievement!

Here is a presentation of the stages of the project.

The introduction of these toilets provides significant benefit to those within the school and community:

· Increasing the quality and number of toilets to provide a greater level of dignity to all who will use them.

· Enabling girls to participate in ACEF’s Dignity project, accessing sanitary products which can be maintained in these facilities.

· Increasing personal security, particularly for the girls, as the toilets will be lit at night.

· Educating the students about biogas and wastewater treatment. In particular, the older students will be given the opportunity to learn about the science, application and maintenance of ‘green’ toilets, opening up new horizons and opportunities for future employment.

· Improving the environment within the school, by moving from open fire to biogas cooking, and outside the school by reducing the human waste discharging into nearby water courses and reducing the number of plastic bags used for the collection of waste.

· Generating a sustainable income through the sale of liquid fertiliser and surplus biogas, which can be used to support the education and welfare of the young people within the school community and contribute towards the maintenance cost of the toilets.

· Providing vital employment opportunities for local young people involved with the construction of the Green Toilets, and generating income for members of the local community.

We need more funds to complete this key project and would value your support in any way.

Interested in supporting us? Click here to find out how to donate.