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Yes, you read that right. It’s World Toilet Day.

With apologies to Rodin

And it certainly is worth thinking about.

Having a day dedicated to toilets may seem humorous to those who have the luxury of taking such a topic for granted, but for many around the world, it’s a very serious problem.

As part of ongoing efforts of Vision Foundation International and others, my husband Duane and our good friend Steve visited Kenya to help facilitate some projects and to document their progress. One project involved installing Eco-San toilets at a girls’ school in Kendu Bay.

I spoke with a former student of the school and others who have visited the site, and the need was indeed great. Like so many latrines and outhouses around the world, their facility was a choo—a hole in the ground inside a shed. With hundreds of people using the same pit latrine, it filled up quickly and the stench was nearly unbearable—a magnet for flies and vermin. The waste leached through the soil, rendering nearby soil infertile and contaminating nearby water sources. The potential for passing on any number of horrible diseases was massive.

But at the girls’ school, the Foundation and others were able to install a wonderful alternative. This well-designed toilet, called the EcoSan, uses no water and separates liquid waste from solid, thereby eliminating most of the problems associated with a standard latrine.

Here’s a link to a very informative (and entertaining!) video about this wonderful design (scroll down to the second video on the page):

Vision Foundation International: Eco-San Toilet

The video (link above) explains it better than mere words alone. It does need some regular maintenance, but then so do most latrines. Rainwater is collected from the roof and is then available for hand-washing. At the end of the decomposition process, pathogens in the waste are killed and the waste becomes fertilizer, which fulfills another need in the area.

At the school, they have installed several Eco-San toilets and the difference has been life-changing.

I look forward to the day when we will no longer need a World Toilet Day, but in the meantime, many who have benefitted from the efforts of caring people (like Vision Foundation International) understand that it really is not a laughing matter.

Until next time~