Community Voices: Marta Alicia Orellana

Sra Marta Orellana en la construcción de la obra gris ó caja receptora de su Letrina Abonera
Ms. Orellana stands next to her unfinished composting latrine in the town of El Porvenir.

Several years ago, Marta Alicia Orellana of El Porvenir, El Salvador had invested in building a formal latrine at her home, but due to a lack of finances it was never finished.  As the base and the walls deteriorated, she found herself using shower curtains around the latrine for privacy, but risked “exposing her physical and moral integrity” daily due to the poor state of her family’s bathroom.

When Trees, Water & People and the Mayor’s office of El Porvenir announced another round of latrine donations, she quickly put her name on the list. She now says she feels more secure having reduced risk of contamination for her family and for those who visit her home, and shows off her new latrine proudly.

Sra. Marta Orellana beneficiaria de Letrina Abonera
Marta stands proud next to her finished dry composting latrine.

How does a dry composting latrine work?

doublevaultcompostinglatrineThe dry compost latrines consist of two chambers made of concrete cinder blocks with a toilet seat, including urine diverter, placed over each of the chambers.  After each use, stove ash, compost, and/or sawdust is added inside the chamber to reduce odors and keep the chamber dry. It also includes a vent to allow fresh air to circulate and further dry the solid matter.  After one chamber is filled it is left to dry during six to eight month periods while the second chamber is in use. The contents of the first chamber are then transformed into a rich fertilizer that can be used on surrounding crops or trees after a drying period under the sun and mixed with a 1:1 ratio of earth.  One dry composting latrine can serve families of more than six people for over 10 years with proper maintenance.

This region is tropical and volcanic, with regular seismic activity, episodes of torrential rains, and a high water table. During big rain events, the ground gets completely saturated, flooding traditional pit latrines, which then leach excrement and pathogens onto open land, into agricultural fields, and into drinking water supplies. Replacing these common pit latrines with composting latrines means cleaner groundwater and a more hygienic conditions in the home, leading to a lower disease burden in these communities.

Update: “10,000 Trees for Haiti” Project Funded

haiti reforestationThank you to everyone who donated to the 10,000 Trees for Haiti project! With your help, we will be able to continue a very strong partnership with Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL), our Haitian NGO partner on the ground. Together, we will keep the tree nursery in Labadee, Haiti going through 2013, providing nutritious fruit trees to local farmers throughout the year. Not only do these trees provide fruit for their families, they also provide extra income to farmers who can sell the produce at market. In addition, these trees will diversify crops, improve soil quality, and help keep local watersheds healthy.

The best part about this project: all the trees are planted with “humanure” from SOIL’s dry composting latrines! The 10,000 Trees for Haiti project is “closing the loop and transforming the poop” in Haiti. This truly is sustainable agriculture at it’s finest.

close the loop and transform the poop

We will continue to provide you with updates from the nursery throughout the year, so stay tuned!

TWP Brings Improved Sanitation Technologies to Rural El Salvador

 

A family stands next to their new dry composting pit latrine.

TWP recently installed 10 dry composting pit latrines in El Salvador, a project that will significantly improve the quality of life for families by decreasing soil contamination and consequent spread of disease.  This sanitation technology replaces traditional pit latrines, which often leach waste into soils and surrounding water supplies, and can overflow with heavy rains and puddle on ground surface.  Pit latrines can be extremely problematic and if not handled properly could be a source for Cholera incubation.  Click here to learn more about how dry composting latrines work.

How Do Composting Latrines Work?

The dry compost latrines consist of two chambers made of concrete cinder blocks with a toilet seat, including urine diverter, placed over each of the chambers.  After each use, stove ash, compost, and/or sawdust is added inside the chamber to reduce odors and keep the chamber dry. It also includes a vent to allow fresh air to circulate and further dry the solid matter.  After one chamber is filled it is left to dry during six to eight month periods while the second chamber is in use. The contents of the first chamber are then transformed into a rich fertilizer that can be used on surrounding crops or trees after a drying period under the sun and mixed with a 1:1 ratio of earth.  One dry composting latrine can serve families of more than six people for over 10 years with proper maintenance.

Photo by IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre