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Lessons from a low cost ecological approach to sanitation in Malawi

This field note summarizes the lessons learned thus far in Malawi’s efforts to popularize ecological sanitation. An innovative sanitation initiative is combining local toilet construction practices with ecological approaches to develop, popularize and market a new range of pit toilets. The toilet design enables communities to safely use human waste as a fertilizer. Under Malawi’s Ecological Sanitation (EcoSan) program, well over 11,000 EcoSan units have been built in areas supported by the initiative since 2003. There are two basic design options: the simplest and most widely used is the “Arborloo”, which is popular particularly among women because it is relatively simple to construct; and a more durable structure called the “Fossa alterna”. The construction cost of these two design types is comparable to that of upgrading a traditional pit latrine. However the fact that EcoSan toilets generate valuable compost allows for the possibility of cost recovery for households in the long term and has proved to be a more important driver than either hygiene or convenience. To popularize ecological sanitation a diverse range of promotion methods is being used, including advocacy campaigns and the use of media, however the most effective forms of promotion remain word of mouth and physical demonstrations of the technology.

TitleLessons from a low cost ecological approach to sanitation in Malawi
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsMorgan, P.
Secondary TitleField note / WSP
Pagination12 p. : 2 boxes, photogr., 1 tab.
Date Published2007-06-01
PublisherWater and Sanitation Program - African Region
Place PublishedNairobi, Kenya
Keywordscomposting latrines, construction costs, extension, malawi, sdiafr, sdiman
Abstract

This field note summarizes the lessons learned thus far in Malawi’s efforts to popularize ecological sanitation. An innovative sanitation initiative is combining local toilet construction practices with ecological approaches to develop, popularize and market a new range of pit toilets. The toilet design enables communities to safely use human waste as a fertilizer. Under Malawi’s Ecological Sanitation (EcoSan) program, well over 11,000 EcoSan units have been built in areas supported by the initiative since 2003. There are two basic design options: the simplest and most widely used is the “Arborloo”, which is popular particularly among women because it is relatively simple to construct; and a more durable structure called the “Fossa alterna”. The construction cost of these two design types is comparable to that of upgrading a traditional pit latrine. However the fact that EcoSan toilets generate valuable compost allows for the possibility of cost recovery for households in the long term and has proved to be a more important driver than either hygiene or convenience. To popularize ecological sanitation a diverse range of promotion methods is being used, including advocacy campaigns and the use of media, however the most effective forms of promotion remain word of mouth and physical demonstrations of the technology.

Notes8 ref.
Custom 1824, 321.2

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