Comparing apples with apples (or toilets removing human waste safely)

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The two pictures below describe very different approaches to solving the problem of removing human waste safely. 

Slide1

The first aims at producing the most toilets for the least $$ possible.  The toilets may not do very much to remove, treat and dispose of human waste safely but they will provide good statistics in the newsletters and reports of the aid agencies or NGOs building the toilets. Imagine the headline ... "1000 toilets built for the poor people of XXXXXX". 

The model shown above will have an effective life of a few months before untreated wastewater spreads across the ground from the ineffective concrete bucket and will increase, rather than decrease, the waste problem in the village. It will not screen flys from the toilet area or waste, the wastewater may leach into the local water table and water supply, it provides no water for dip flushing or handwashing (a key health factor in any toilet), no use is made of the waste either for gas or fertilising the nearby crops and will probably be used rarely, due to lack of privacy. 

This toilet program makes no claims about employing or training local community people or about developing the local economy. There is unlikely to be any maintenance of the toilets.

So the $300 investment will provide a poorly constructed and little used system for a very short period of time, say 3 months, before certain failure. This would mean an investment of $100/month.

Slide2

The second option above, addresses all the issues not considered in the first toilet and should have a working life of 20 years, or 240 months. The program that delivers the toilets and underground treatment and bio-gas systems also trains and employs local people, develops the local economy and leaves a skilled workforce in each village able to maintain the toilets. 

At a cost of $1500 this system is apparently 5 times more expensive than he first but this system but hopefully it is now clear that the systems are not comparable. Whilst safely disposing of human waste, and in some cases also provides a source of cooking gas at no additional ongoing cost, this system provides an effective means of waste disposal over the long term. If a cost comparison based on function were made this system would cost a total cost of $6.25 per month ($1500/240 months ignoring the added value of the free bio gas returned to the household), compared with $100 per month for the few that the first system would 'operate' before becoming a health hazard.