Eco-toilets transform a Peruvian village
The traditional toilet facilities in Micaya, Peru aren't working.
For Victoria Canchis the situation was dire "There was no toilet so my children and I had to find a place in the field, on the riverbank or across by the mountain. The waste was a problem for our water, which we collected from the river and the smell around here was no good."
For her a visit to the "traditional loo" involved a 20 minute trek over rough ground to a riverbank. As if that is not bad enough Micaya is at 5000m (four times the height of Ben Nevis) and it reaches -14ºC at night. And the river in question also supplies all the drinking water and washing facilities for the whole village.
On top of that, the villagers in this area of Peru are some of the poorest in the world, existing on an average 300 US Dollars a year.
Now Practical Action is introducing 300 new eco-toilets to the village. The eco-toilets are a dry loo (essential in an area where water is extremely scarce). They have been developed with the local communities so that the design is one which can be built readily with local materials and is easy for local people to build.
And in addition to improved sanitation the loos produce a safe fertiliser which can be used to fertilise the pasture lands on which villagers' alpacas feed.
The multiple benefits of eco-toilets are vital in an area of the world where 59% of children suffer from chronic malnutrition and the infant mortality rate is 114 of every thousand children born.
Victoria's life has been totally changed, " There is more security, my home is clean, the fields are clean, and my children are clean. We are all so much healthier."
The eco-toilet project is part of a wider project aimed at improving the lives of people in this area with access to clean water, sanitation, energy from micro-hydro and solar and clean burning stoves for use in the home. Using wood fires for cooking is a health hazard in much the same way as smoking cigarettes is.
The people in the Sicuani region are starting to see the benefits Practical Action brings.