Green Technology for Children Health
in Remote Mountainous areas with Severe Water Shortage
“Where is the toilet?”Such an usual question, and everyone in Hanoi or many other delta provinces will laugh at it; but for children in Ho Quang Phin commune, Dong Van district, Ha Giang province, it is such a hard question!
Issue: Lack of clean toilets because of … lacking water!
Dong Van is located in a rocky limestone plateau region and frequently experiences severe water shortages in the dry season. There is shortage of eating and drinking water, not to mention water for toilets. The lack of quality, environmentally friendly, easy to use and low maintenance toilets is a serious problem in many rural communes of Vietnam and is even more serious in mountainous communes where water is not available.
Unsafe sanitation is a significant problem in schools and causes problems for children, as well as the community, through the heightened risk of gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases. This also impacts economically as families need to spend income on medicines and there is lost productivity from illness. Even though provincial leaders had directed construction of conventional water-using flushed toilets, most of the toilets have been broken and stuck after a short time due to lack of water.A safe, economic and environmentally friendly solution that can be easily maintained by the local community to treat human waste in schools in Dong Van is urgently needed.
Solution: WATERLESS Environmental friendly Bio-toilets!
To meet the pressing need of waterless toilets in Dong Van district, at the beginning of 2016, sponsored by the Australian Embassy in Vietnam, Environment Technology and Technical Corporation (ENVITECH), CHODAI Co., LTD from Japan, Institute of Population, Health and Development (PHAD) have worked closely to build and install 06 waterless bio-toilets at central schools and village schools at Ho Quang Phin Semi-Boarding Ethnic Primary School, Ho Quang Phin commune, Dong Van district, Ha Giang province.
These bio-toilets are an innovative creation, having been developed through cooperation with Japan and have been studied globally. The Bio- toilet does not require water to decompose biological waste and produces little odour. It operates on the principle of decomposing organic compounds by the use of activated charcoal and microbes to kill harmful bacteria and parasites.
No pits are required and maintenance is low, with pad cleaning required every three years, which can be managed locally. Making the activated charcoal is a simple procedure using school waste such as paper, bamboo and this will be taught as part of training for the local community to maintain. In the first three years the school will receive biologically activated charcoal annually from CHODAI Co. Ltd to supplement the required amount, and maintenance support for two years.
How to use bio-toilets?
So how do we use bio-toilets properly to maintain and preserve them? Dr. Nguyen Trung Chien, Dr, Kieu Binh and Nguyen Hanh Phuc B.A. (PHAD) has created Information, Education and Communication materials on using bio-toilets properly and maintain public sanitation and personal hygiene.
Apart from materials posted at suitable postions on all of the bio-toilets, PHAD staff also created video for illustration of proper bio-toilets use, dry hand-washing after using the bio-toilet and cleaning of bio-toilets to ensure their quality.
The Bio-toilet will provide a clean, safe and private place for children to go to the toilet. Each toilet has a capacity for 100 uses/day which will easily cover the needs of the children at the schools. The toilets will be housed in locally sourced and built bamboo shelters. We will also explore local solutions for hand washing so children can maintain personal hygiene and further reduce the risk of disease transmission. In the interim, the project will provide hand sanitation solution for the children.
The installation of bio-toilets at selected schools will enhance the quality of life of these children, their teachers and their communities. This clearly demonstrates PHAD’s efforts to bring technology to improve lifeand community health at underprivileged areas.
Hurdles and future development
One of the obstacles we encounter is the high price of bio-toilets. Currently, Bio-toilets are produced in accordance with strict standardfrom Japan, leading to quite exorbitant price of approximately $7,000/set). This price makes bio-toilets out of community people’s reach without the project’s funding. Even funding for maintaining hand sanitizer is a challenging issue. In the meantine, PHAD will find funds from philanthropists to continue the supply of hand sanitizer. However, over the long haul, there needs to be more sustainable solution, such as generating funds from community activities to support Bio-toilets at Ho Quang Phin school.
Potentially, this project could benefit many disadvantaged schools and communities in Vietnam, aiding in improving public sanitation, personal hygiene and bring green health to communities.