Monday, November 7, 2011

Digging the hole

3x3 meters and hopefully 8 meters deep.  We are planning for the future with this hole.  The community looked at me a little skewed when I joked that we were digging until we could not dig anymore.  Since last Wednesday, six men have worked in two shifts to excavate about a half meter of dirt (in overall depth) a day. The photo shown is the result of the first 2 days of digging.  In preparation for the very deep depth, we cut down a couple Eucalyptus (a tree that grows like weed throughout Ethiopia, and is used for a majority of residential building) and built a 7 meter long ladder.  It looks a bit ridiculous sticking out the 5 meters it is currently, but the ladder will be a must by next week.  

So those familiar with building toilets in rural places are aware that there are a few options to choose from.  To name three of the common choices...  

1. A pit latrine.  A large hole in the ground, that allows for some leaching of material into the surrounding soil.  When the hole is filled, the bathroom holes are plugged.  The housing is raised from the foundation and placed on top of a new dug hole.  Pit latrines can be drained and reused when drainage trucks are available. Supposedly, there are no such trucks available in Kambata. 

2. Septic . A carefully balanced plumbing system largely used in rural locations around the world.  Simply put, bacteria and PH levels are monitored for the most effective material management.  There are large leaching fields to allow for pr material to dissipate into the surrounding earth.  With general maintenance and system monitoring, properly designed septic systems may last well into the future.

3. Organic options.  Human waste is hygienically managed to be recycled in farming use; similar to manure.  Bathrooms that are usually used in smaller populations.  Solid and liquid contents are separated for different uses. Solid contents are mixed with ash and or Lyme and saved in removable collecting bins.  While liquid is saved through a variety of storage means. Depending on the population size the contents are utilized on daily, weekly, bi weekly, or even monthly basis. 

Because our school is sitting among numerous farm plots (we do not have the proper amount of space to allow for effective leach fields, and do not want to negatively affect local crops), and the population using the bathrooms is over a few hundred (we would have to collect material much too often with such a large population), we are forced to use pit latrines.  We estimate that the current pit, without being drained, will be functional for the next 5 to 7 years, and will reuse the housing structure (it is designed to be removed and transported for future pit latrine use).  

Sure its not a fun topic to imagine.  But it is certainly important.

1 comment:

  1. Right on Cien! All of us back here who had something to do with Run Across Ethiopia are grateful for your work. Thanks for the good work you do!