Coach House Geography

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The Peepoople – a safe solution to poor sanitation

Posted by Lindy on September 8, 2011

Follow this link for the slide show that goes with this article:

“They call me ‘Mama Poo’” Anne told me matter-of-factly as we strolled through a dusty pathway in Silanga, a small neighbourhood in the expansive Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya. “And I like that,” she added.

Anne Nudge is a Sales Representative for Peepoople AB, a Swedish social enterprise that, last October, launched a pilot project in Silanga, marketing and selling “The Peepoo”– a single-use, personal toilet that sanitizes human waste quickly, preventing it from contaminating the surrounding environment. After just a few weeks, the bag transforms the waste into a nutrient-rich fertilizer. (This then gets used in bag-gardens – more later). It works because the inner bag contains a cheap chemical urea that breaks down and kills all the bugs in the poor in just 3 weeks. By this time the plactic has biodegraded and you have safe compost.

The Peepoo bags, which sell at a subsidized (by PeePoople) cost of three Kenyan Shillings each (2 pence English), are used at home. They might seem basic but and it actually strictly adheres to the World Health Organization’s definition of sanitation- isolating waste from humans, isolating it from flies and animals, and inoculating the pathogens before it returns to environment. ( see pictures of peepoo bags here: )

While treated bags may seem a rudimentary, even crude form of sanitation, looking at the alternatives make the solution seem a little less far fetched. The first option for many slum dwellers are the overcrowded, unsanitary, and often unsafe public toilets- simple elevated wooden or tin shacks with holes in the floor- which breed disease and sometimes serve up to 300, even 500 households. ( follow this link to see why they don’t like the public tioete – scroll down to see some really bad pictures! )

The second, and less attractive option, are “flying toilets,” tiny grocery bags that, after usage, are carelessly thrown into the street or alley, where it seeps back into the ground.


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