Huabalito and La Botella Bathroom Project – Peru
Water Charity Project Huabalito and La Botella are small farming annexes of Sausal, the village where Peace Corps Volunteer Matthew Fuller lives and works, and where 22 and 25 families live respectively. Each community is entirely dependent on export and subsistent farming as an economic activity, including the production of grapes and sugar for export.
Both communities are highly impoverished and lack basic resources, such as electrical connections, a secure source of water, and adequate sanitation facilities. While extremely poor, the families in the community are humble and warm, often inviting the health post staff and Matthew to whatever food is available.
Water Charity is participating in a larger project to construct dry ecological bathrooms at households in the villages. This technology does not contaminate groundwater as no pit is dug. Instead, solid waste (feces) falls into one of two sealed chambers, and liquid waste (urine) is separated through the specially- designed toilet and is transferred outside the unit.
The urine can then be stored and diluted for use as fertilizer, or can pass through a basic gravel filter. The feces is stored in a sealed chamber with a cement floor and a sealed brick wall, and is mixed with ash or organic material.
After six months, the chamber is sealed and the user uses the other chamber for the next six months. During this time, the organic matter decomposes, while bad bacteria and viruses die. After six months, the material is ready to be safely removed from the chamber to be used as organic fertilizer and the process repeats again. These bathrooms have an estimated useful life of 20 years, largely depending on the building materials.
The construction follows a program of education and training that commenced in October 2010. 15 families in each community were invited to participate in a Healthy Homes program, based on family demographics and advice from local health promoters. The program involved a series of health and hygiene-related talks, with topics chosen by Matthew and local health promoters.
Twice a month families were required to attend these health talks on themes such as hand washing, water treatment, family violence, and trash management. In addition, families were responsible to install Tippy Taps (simple and economical hand-washing stations), initiating water treatment practices, and digging a mini-landfill. After each session, follow-up visits were paid to families to check for learning and practices in the home and to resolve any questions or clarify information from the session.
By the end of the program, 25 families (including 6 volunteer community health promoters) completed the educational session of the program, with the vast majority showing improved hand washing and health practices in the house (according to the baseline analysis at the beginning of the program).
The community will contribute labor and local resources, including adobe blocks.
The local government will provide a large portion of the project cost, with other funding to provide the remainder.
After construction, bi-monthly visits will be paid to families by health promoters to ensure the continuation of healthy practices and habits, as well as the use and maintenance of the dry bathrooms.
In total, 134 people in two rural Peruvian farming communities (43 male, 48 female, 17 boys and 26 girls) will benefit from the project.
This type of bathroom is important in these communities for a variety of reasons. First, it provides sorely needed sanitation services in the community. The incidence of diarrheal diseases and typhoid can be expected to be reduced by 50%.
Secondly, the construction of the chambers eliminates the need to dig a pit and the risk of contaminated groundwater. Especially in the community of Huabalito, the groundwater is too high in many parts to safely construct pit latrines.
Thirdly, the matter is converted from a contaminant to an asset in the community. Organic material is transformed into fertilizer, which will benefit the agrarian families.
The Water Charity participation in this project has now been fully funded through the generosity of The Soneva SLOW LIFE Trust as a part of their Clean Water Projects initiative.
We encourage others to continue to donate using the Donate button below, and we will notify Peace Corps Volunteer Matthew Fuller of your donation. Additional funds will be used to fund the next project by Matthew and/or those of other PCVs in the country of service.
This project has been finished. To read about the conclusion of the project, CLICK HERE.