Pay as you go clean-toilet program

It’s too easy sometimes for us to say we live in a third-world state when requesting infrastructure funding. We say this even though Alaska has only one census district that is among the USA’s poorest.

It might be useful sometimes to see what the genuine third-world is doing for sanitation and public health. A lot of these ideas would be feasible to modify for rural Alaska (and many, such as dry sanitation, have been modified for first-world economies in the north, except us.) It isn’t just the technology, but the planning ideas which may be the most valuable to consider. For example, from Sulabh International Social Service Organization,

“The whole idea is to save water,” says Ramachandran. “Today, we’re taking good water from the river and using it to flush toilets, which makes the water dirty. Then we use expensive treatment techniques before dumping it back into the river. [emphasis added] Instead, why not treat it at the source?”

from the February 15, 2007 edition
Pay as you go: clean-toilet program for India’s towns
A local group is sparking a quiet sanitary revolution that the World Bank and UN call a model for other developing countries.
By Anuj Chopra | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

…Through community participation, Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA), a German funding agency, built a pay-and-use community toilet for 500 local families here that is now run and managed by locals themselves….

These toilets are affordable for the poor, and the cheapest model can be constructed for as little as $10. And in a country where water shortages are a primary reason for the dearth of toilets, Sulabh’s toilets aren’t water-guzzlers: They require only 2 liters of water compared with 10 liters for a conventional toilet…

Sulabh’s systems often come with an innovative modification: the attachment of a biogas plant. Through these plants, human waste produces biogas that, when mixed with diesel fuel, can power electrical devices such as streetlights. A similar technique of wet-sanitation is being replicated elsewhere in India by groups like BORDA.

…the attempt isn’t simply to dole out toilets to the poor, but to build them through community participation while educating people about the importance of sanitation.

“We do not want the government to give any subsidy to build toilets,” says Mr. Pathak. “We just want them to tell banks not to refuse loans if poor people want to build toilets.”

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