Sunday, December 7, 2014

Kid's Korner: How do you poop?

Question: How do you poop?
The same way you do! But perhaps you were asking how is human waste disposed of.

Short Answer: In Malawi, the answer depends on where you live. Indoor plumbing is very common within the major cities so, just like in the USA, pull a lever and away it goes. Out in the villages people dig pit latrines called a chimbuzi.

A chimbuzi with a fancy hand washing station.
A slightly more complicated answer: A chimbuzi is just like an outhouse. (Ask your grandparents.) A large pit is dug, then boards are placed over the pit leaving a small hole for the waste. Then a layer of mud or concrete is placed on top of the boards to create a floor. Finally mud or bricks are used to create the walls and a roof is placed on top. After many years, once the pit has filled to the top, the pit is capped and a new pit is dug else where. Often trees are planted near the pits so that the nutrients in the waste can be utilized.
A chim hole
How to use a chimbuzi

The we like to be different answer: While we have a chimbuzi, we don't use it. We wanted to be able to use the nutrients (fertilizer) in the waste so we collect ours in a bucket. Each time we use it we 'flush' with a handful of ash and a handful of leaves to control smell and absorb liquid. When the bucket gets full we take it out and add it to our compost pile. The waste is broken down by bacteria and worms into nutrients (fertilizer) that the plants can use and removes harmful bacteria that can get us sick. We then add it back into our garden for more food.

Composting Toilet with bucket inside.
Not everyone in Malawi has a way to get rid of their waste so they partake in what is called "open defecation" (pooping on the ground). Also, in certain parts of the country, seasonal rains flood out the latrines so they are unusable leading to open defecation. As Peace Corps Volunteers it is our job is to teach about positive waste management. How to use and build pit latrines or alternative systems like compost toilets.

But how do you use the bathroom when you're in the car? No gas stations here so, you pull over on the side of the road and drop trou!

Next time on Kids Korner: 
If you don't have electricity, how do you cook?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! I can't wait to share this with my students! So is that your composting toilet? And did you all make it? Waste not want not! :D