EVENT DATE: Aug 15, 2012
Eco-San toilets convert human waste into fertilizer, improving crop yields for local small scale farmers. When the crop production is better, farmers don’t have to move into the fertile wetlands areas. That is a good thing, because these areas already host a local community of hippos, an increasingly vulnerable species that is not always so welcoming to new neighbors.
Of farmers and hippos
The Otieno family (see attached video) lives and works next to the Dunga Wetlands, on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya. The Dunga Wetlands are also home to a healthy population of hippopotami. These wetlands provide some of the most fertile soil around, and so small-scale farmers, like the Otienos, expand into the wetlands, and into hippo territory, looking for stronger crop yields and more secure livelihoods. But this situation brings the farmer into contact with the hippo, a territorial and temperamental animal. These encounters usually don’t end well for anyone, with hippos raiding and destroying crops, and farmers retaliating. What we need here is a new kind of toilet…
Yup, a toilet
Ecologically sanitary, or “Eco-San”, toilets convert human waste into fertilizer, allowing farmers to grower stronger crops on their existing land. Farmers currently using Eco-San toilets report tripled crop yields. When small-scale farms are more productive, they don’t need to move into hippo territory. Additionally, these toilets are far more sanitary than the pit latrines currently in use, which contaminate drinking water and contribute to the incidence of water-borne diseases in the area. Farmers get better crops and better health, hippos get fewer farmers in their territory, and everyone lives happily. But there is a catch…
And that is
These toilets aren’t free. Each Eco-San toilet, built by local masons who are themselves members of the community, costs $800. CREE’s local partner, Ecofinder Kenya, has consulted with the community, which decided through a democratic process that the Otieno family would make good use of this technology. The Otienos – consisting of 9 people across 3 generations – are not looking for a hand-out, and have agreed to contribute 10% of the cost of the toilet. But that still leaves the remaining $720, plus an additional $180 required to cover fundraising costs and a bit for Ecofinder Kenya's time, so that they can continue doing this work. (CREE’s HQ takes nothing from of your contributions.) And so we get to…
In total, we are seeking $900 to help the Otieno family purchase an Eco-San toilet, and to support the local masons and Ecofinder Kenya. We believe that with each additional family that has access to this technology, there will be less of a need push into hippo territory just to make a living. And if, by chance, the funds raised surpass our goal, surplus funds will go towards building additional Eco-San toilets for other families in the area. So please give whatever you can – your contribution is greatly appreciated!