A Free Minimalist Do-it-yourself UDDT (Ecuador)

  • charlesthibodeau2030
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Ecosan project in Ecuador

Hello everyone,

I would like to share with you all my project in Ecuador for which I made a video and co-write an article. Overall, we built 6 new UDDTs in the Andes, Ecuador, in August 2010. The project went fine except some "normal" difficulties (see article's link). With masons, families and one NGO involved in the communinity, I made this project with Chris Canaday and Kawshalya Pathiraja (US Peace Corps).

To see the 15 minutes video (which I'm proud of!!):
1. French subtitles:

2. English subtitles:

3. Spanish subtitles:


Article "Elegant yet Economical UDDTs in Ecuador" published in SSP (Sustainable Sanitation Practice) p.23: www.ecosan.at/ssp/issue-06-toilets/issue-06-toilets

If you have any comments or questions, don't hesitate to contact me:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Au plaisir,
Sincerely yours,
Ciao

Charles
Québec, Canada
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  • muench
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Re: Ecosan project in Ecuador

Dear Charles,

Thank you for sharing with us this nice video which you made!
It is very interesting to watch, not least because of those nice pictures and scenes of rural Ecuador - finally I got an impression what it looks like there! It is also quite a personal video (even showing your bedroom), and I finally know what Chris Canaday looks like now. B)

I also appreciated seeing those sacks for faeces collection. I had read about them and seen photos but in the video it finally becomes clearer on how they are installed. My first reaction was that these sacks would not lead to good dehydration of faeces. However, then I read the following in your paper, which is interesting:

Advantages of sacks include evaporation of water outward through the cloth and infiltration of oxygen, in addition to their extreme low cost and accessibility.


I wonder if others have observed the same properties?

The video has raised a few questions:
  1. You had a simple setup for the urine diversion (a funnel and a sack), but the overall toilet was pretty expensive and also looked pretty fancy (i.e. it was an expensive superstructure). Would such an expensive toilet not hinder spontaneous replication?
  2. Have you observed any spontaneous replication?
  3. What is the impact beyond the 6 families. Have you thought about ways to scale this up? Have you been able to involve any government institutions? What have been their reactions?
  4. The set-up of the funnel and sack looks to me like faeces could also fall in between as there is sort of a gap between the side of the funnel and the sack.
  5. You mentioned Peace Corps volunteers. What can you tell us about them? This whole Peace Corps thing is really a big unknown for me. I know they have built some UDDTs in Panama (in anyone is interested in this, see: www.susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbktypeitem&type=2&id=1417 ). What role exactly do they play, what impact do they achieve? Are they supporting alternative sanitation systems such as this one?

By the way, out of curiosity: how is your PhD going or is it already finished? What exactly is your topic now? I remember meeting back in 2007 for the first time, when you were the first Canadian I ever met who got interested in ecosan and who came over to Europe to learn about it. :)

Again: thanks for sharing this video with us!

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • charlesthibodeau2030
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Re: Ecosan project in Ecuador

Hello Elisabeth,

Thank you for your nice and relevant comment about my video. It's quite often the case that when we learn things, it is partial and we don't have all the info to understand all what we want. So now you can appreciate more Andes, Chris and a ex-volunteer's bedroom! And about the same about sack for feaces collection. Well, to answer your first question, I haven't seen other UDDT with such rice sack. Maybe you can ask Chris about that. It's his plans and design that I followed. For the other questions:

1. Well people in the Andes are used to built infrastructures with concrete. They seem to have lost the way the ancestors built with mud and straw and prefer now to build with concrete. Yes it's expensive, much less if you're able to do it yourself and you have to consider the long lifespan of concrete compared with wood or other material. But it would be interesting to do survey of what people are willing to pay. Fancy? Yes, ceramic tiles make it pretty and easy to clean. In the overall cost, it doesn't contribute much (as you can see in the article) so I think it is worth it.

2. Few people told me they would replicate it, but I'm really not sure they did actually. As we discussed in Ecosanres forum once, I don't think people are willing to pay a lot for sanitation.

3. Chris did a follow-up tour 2-3 months after the project (I left after the building of the last toilet) as it is explained in the SSP article. Some weren't used at all, some badly or for other use (as a bathroom to take shower because ceramic is more confortable I guess then their shower in their own house). The mayor of Tisaleo was not very interested by our project, and I guess no one in the government got more interest. For me it was a second international cooperation project (short one because I stayed there 2 months) to help people over there and for me to test if I want to do a longer project (about 2 years with my wife). And I want! So when I'll finish my PhD (let's say in 1 year and a bit more) we will compare some projects and go for it! Because we will work for an international NGO I don't think it will be in the Andes again. Let's see where life sends me!

4. Well, this gap is not supposed to be there because sack is touching the funnel. And the funnel screen is there to prevent feaces coming in and to ease the cleaning step.

5. What I understand about Peace Corps volunteers is that they are US volunteers selected to achieve a two-year project in a developing country. They are between 24 and 30 years old I would say. In Ecuador they were about 60 in all different villages and cities. They work in all the basic needs sector as hygiene, HIV, environment, health, education and so on. The lady I worked with, Kawshy, was working in public health. After one year of observation and analysis of community needs she identified sanitation as the more urgent need to work on. She wanted to build new toilets for families. To get the necessary fund to cover 75% of toilet cost (25% is paid by the family) she asked for money to Peace Corps funding program or something like that. She was told that she would get the money if she would build an ecological toilet as Christopher Canaday developed. So she got in contact with me, completed the proposal, got the money, built 8 toilets, and gave me some "money leftover" to achieve six other UDDTs. So I don't think they are obliged to build ecological sound thing because it depends on the expectation of the Peace Corps' chief in the country.

5. PhD. You can have a look on this brand new article, which is my first one out of three to be published in the frame of my PhD. The second should be really interesting as it will go deep in environment impact as Christian Remy did. The third one should be to develop a methodology to help decision maker in choosing the best sanitation options out of the two analysed. I would have loved to expand my work to low-tech sanitation option like dry sanitation, but the data collection is so long that my PhD would last 10 years! You know the picture is!!

And you Elisabeth?? How are you doing in Sustainable Sanitation Alliance? And your work for GIZ? Do you feel that sanitation is getting more attention and money than before? What do you think would be the best option for a guy that want to save the world in the field of sanitation? What's your next project?

Cheers from Québec, Canada
Charles
Note 1: Nothing is going on in the field of sustainable sanitation in Canada as I'm aware of... But I'm still in contact with Francis Dubé who would love, like me, to do some projects in the future... let's see!
Note 2: it's was a pleasure to share the video with you... and you make me thing of another one that I will send you...
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  • charlesthibodeau2030
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Re: Ecosan project in Ecuador (another video)

Hello everyone,

For people that are interested to know more about the UDDT design we made in Ecuador that has been developed by Chris Canaday, you can have a look on:

which is a complete description of the design by Chris itself.

Enno, is it possible for you to embed it in the videos section?

Thanks,

Charles
Québec, Canada
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  • canaday
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Re: A Free Minimalist Do-it-yourself UDDT (Ecuador)

Hi everyone,

A while back, Abby Brown of PHLUSH (Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human) posted a questionaire here about EcoSan options for unhoused (=homeless) people. We discussed this a bit and I proposed the following cost-free design, based on a few selected items that can be readily rescued from the garbage, which we posted, with Carol McCreary's help, on their website:
www.phlush.org/2013/10/14/a-minimalist-c...r-disaster-stricken/

I have since proceeded to polish the idea a bit and post it on my blog:
inodoroseco.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-free-...ist-uddt-part-1.html

together with a Spanish translation:
inodoroseco.blogspot.com/2013/11/un-inod...o-que-cualquier.html

One of the main bits that I added is the following, which I believe may open an interesting discussion here on the Forum.

- - -
Where could this go?

By using this minimalist do-it-yourself toilet, people can not only resolve this sanitary problem themselves immediately, but they can also demonstrate to governments, foundations, and others that they understand and embrace the concept and practice of Urine-diverting Dry Toilets. Many planners and decision-makers would discard this option as a utopian dream that could never be feasible, but in reality local citizens are often much more practical, proactive and down-to-earth than their “leaders”. Once people demonstrate that they can properly manage this bare-bones UDDT, governments and foundations would be much more confident in building fancier, permanent units for these same users. Too many UDDTs have been built and given to the users, with everyone simply hoping that they will use them correctly, and then they are abandoned or misused, because the users were not adequately prepared and convinced of the system.

In fact, this simple toilet could be used as a test for these users to confirm their spot on the list of permanent and elegant UDDTs to be built. After a week of use, someone could visit to see how they have been used, and this would put pressure on them to actually understand and use the toilet and to actually use it properly, since no one would want to be crossed off the list for being messy or not being able to follow instructions. (This would also be an important application of MoSan, as discussed recently here on the Forum.)

This design can thus be considered a low but solid rung in the ladder of increasingly user-friendly UDDTs. With it, those 2.6 billion could quickly have a toilet, maybe with some creative redistribution of these plastic “wastes”, especially considering that, since these polypropylene sacks are protected from the damaging rays of the sun, they can be used again and again, year after year. This toilet is accessible to anyone in the world who can rescue a few selected things out of the trash and has a clear decision to keep the environment cleaner and more productive.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this simple toilet, please let me know. I also invite you to read more about the current problems of sanitation in this interview
www.chekhovskalashnikov.com/water-sanitation/
and more about Urine-diverting Dry Toilets in this interview.
www.chekhovskalashnikov.com/human-waste-disposal/

(( Keep water clean by keeping sh*t dirty. ))

- - -
If you find this the least bit useful, interestting or amusing (or if there is some fatal flaw), please add a comment or click on "like".

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday

Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
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  • MRonteltap
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Re: A Free Minimalist DIY UDDT

In fact I really like the idea Chris, and that fact that you think about homeless people in rich countries. I was indeed also wondering whether homeless people would care at all about creating anything resembling a toilet (and exactly then I was reading your text that local citizens are much more down to earth than decision makers think :)).

As a follow-up: did the Phlush people see any implementation of your idea? Or do they feel this solution meets a need?

Thanks for sharing your creativity!

Have a nice Sunday,
Mariska.
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  • Marijn Zandee
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Re: A Free Minimalist DIY UDDT

Dear Chris,

I do like the idea of people being enabled and supported to build and use very basic toilets as way of "pressurizing" institutions to help them make the next step. I don't quite see yet how to organize it, but it seems like a very powerful concept to me and one that is worth thinking about in more detail.

Regards

Marijn

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  • joeturner
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Re: A Free Minimalist DIY UDDT

A couple of thoughts/questions:

1. How available are the woven polypropylene sacks generally? How practical is this as a solution? Is the suggestion that a breathable bag is necessary for aerobic breakdown of the pathogens, so that use of non-woven sacks, buckets or plastic tubs would be less useful?

2. If someone has a form of watery diarrhea, is it not possible that the contents would leak out from an impervious bag?

3. I still have worries about how safe material would be that has been left in this way. Do we have experimental data to show that the pathogen die-off in a bag gets to acceptable levels?

4. Are we absolutely sure that all that is required to prevent fly egg production is a handful of soil?
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  • canaday
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Re: A Free Minimalist DIY UDDT

Hi Joe,

Good questions. (Maybe I should integrate them into the text.)

1) These sacks are super common, as they used (surely throughout the world) to transport and sell rice, corn, potatoes, flour, sugar, chemical fertilizers, etc. They are strong and cheap, plus many times they can be pulled out of the garbage ... and it does not matter that they are a bit dirty, given what we will put in them. If they seem messy, some dry cover material could be sprinkled inside them. This is an extremely practical solution, since treatment consists in simply storing the sacks somewhere protected against the rain, sun, and ground water (like under a house constructed on pillars), letting Nature take its course inside each sack, and waiting until the jail sentence is over.

2) Yes, this is one of the risks, but all systems require proper understanding and management. The prospect of abundant diarrea is a reason to put a layer of dry leaves in the bottom of the sack before use, plus a larger quantity of dry cover material can be added after such uses (or even potentially before). If the sacks look wet when moving or storing them, wood ashes can be thrown at them. Plus I think we can trust that no one will eat off the soil under the toilet, nor under the storage area.

3) We have done microscopic trials and have yet to find Ascaris eggs (generally agreed to be the most persistent fecal pathogen) beyond 4 months. Independant, third-party trials of 6-month-old compost have never found any. Researchers interested in studying this are welcome here and I would be glad to send samples wherever it is legal to do so.

4) Flies are no longer attracted when the feces are covered in soil, especially if the cover material is recycled and includes exactly the microbes that broke down maggots, pupae and flies in the previous cycle. I suspect they can smell the microbes that would attack their maggots. (Everyone wants their food clean, even flies and rats.) In addition, filling the sack only to a height of 12 cm makes for a small receptacle, which will likely fill and get tied closed before a week has passed, so, even if fly eggs get laid, there is not enough time for new adult flies to hatch out before they get jailed inside the sack, which they cannot fight their way through. Experimental confirmation of all this would make excellent thesis topics for someone.

Thanks, Marijn and Mariska, for your comments and encouragement. The Phlush people are excited about this and have put it on all their social media, but we do not know of homeless people applying it yet. Nonetheless, a friend is planning to do so in her fancy home in San Diego, California (to not contaminate water and to apply the more healthful squatting position).

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday

Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
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  • joeturner
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Re: A Free Minimalist DIY UDDT

Hello again Chris, thanks for taking time to answer. I see that you have another page on your blog now that I didn't notice previously which has some other interesting information.

I am disappointed that you reproduce Jenkins' graphs, though. I think we should all stop publicising his work as a) the science is disputed and b) it is based on very old experiments so that c) it gives a very misleading impression of the pathogen breakdown.

That said, it sounds like you've done some useful microbial studies of your own which seem to verify your work, which is great.
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  • BPopov
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Re: A Free Minimalist DIY UDDT

Thank you Chris !

Not sure how usefull it for the real homeless people. They usually so apathic -- they do not bother about disposing their wastes properly.

Could be a good system for campers though.

Bogdan Popov
The Ecosolutions Forge
www.ecoforge.org
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  • canaday
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Re: A Free Minimalist DIY UDDT

Hi BPopov,

Thanks for the encouragement. Let me know if you build one.

Hi Joe,

Could you please document the problems you mention with Joe Jenkins and the Humanure Handbook? I think his system is not likely to go mainstream tomorrow and I prefer to keep urine separate, but he is demonstrating to the world that this kind of nutrient recycling is possible and his very readable book is a great introduction to newcomers. In any case, the graph I reproduced is not his, but borrowed from another source.

Best wishes,
Chris

Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
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