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Minimalist Urine-diverting Dry Toilets to control fecal transmission of Ebola

Ebola is transmitted via bodily fluids, including feces, plus it causes diarrea, so why is no one talking about all the open defecation in the affected countries? This Minimalist Urine-diverting Dry Toilet can be done at next to no cost to contain this contagious material long enough for the virus to be destroyed, certainly less than 6 months in the Tropics, without toxic chemicals. So many other diseases and parasites are also transmitted via open defecation and untreated sewage.

Photo of Chris Canaday

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Ebola is transmitted via bodily fluids, including feces, plus it causes diarrea. A detention time of 6 months in the Tropics would certainly be longer than necessary to eliminate this virus in the relatively dry and aerated conditions of a UDDT (especially if the feces are stored in woven, polypropylene sacks, which we may like to store in a locked room or bury in the ground, in this case of Ebola). Urine can safely be soaked into holes in the ground (preferably near fruit trees).

I do not understand why no one is talking about sanitation in the fight against Ebola, what with all the open defecation and the virus causing diarrea.

This minimalist design of UDDT could be deployed quickly at minimal cost:
inodoroseco.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-free-...ist-uddt-part-1.html

An emergency like this can be a great time for local residents to learn to live more sustainably. This would also be an excellent opportunity to teach the world something about how to live in more harmony with nature.

A thread on the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance Forum:
http://forum.susana.org/forum/categories?func=view&catid=26&id=10359&limit=1000#10359

Tweet:
No-cost #toilets to control #Ebola which is also transmtd via feces #ecosan #sanitation @WHO http://inodoroseco.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-free-minimalist-uddt-part-1.html
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Rebecca Buechel

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"Hi Rebecca, would you like to help me promote this idea? Do you know how to click this up and actually catch the attention of AID and actually get this applied?"

Chris's profile

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Photo of Rebecca Buechel
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Hi Chris, why don't you come over to James Gien Varney-Wong's Ebola Community Action Room ? Some of us are still designing/contacting, moving...Take care! me

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
Team

Hi Chris, For info, here's the answer I got from wateraid.org . (It's a bit long!)
Not sure who might be able to address the issue except local ministries ? The other NGOs might have their hands full ?

Hello Rebecca,

Thank you for your email, it's really encouraging that you and the Openideo community have been considering how to assist against Ebola.

You're absolutely right that access to hygienic toilets and sanitation play a huge part in combating Ebola, and the reason it has spread so quickly in countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone has a lot to do with their lack of access to these facilities. In Nigeria, where a larger proportion of the population has clean water and toilets, and where there is a better health service, they been able to mobilise against Ebola much more effectively.

WaterAid is principally a development organisation, working with communities on long-term solutions to water and sanitation problems. We may respond to natural disasters and other emergencies in places we are already working, if we can make a useful contribution within our areas of expertise, especially in protecting or restoring vital water and sanitation services for poor people. However, generally we don't have the expertise or knowledge required to deliver short term, humanitarian aid, such as portable or temporary toilets. For more information on our work please visit www.wateraid.org/technology (you may particularly be interested in our sanitation information which is further down the page).

As I'm sure you'll also appreciate,our colleagues and their families in Liberia and Sierra Lone are our priority and as a result we have closed the offices in both counties until further notice. However some of our colleagues are still working from their homes, and we have also set up an incident management team, made up of senior staff from both countries with support from the West Africa and UK office - to monitor the situation as it changes and provide updates. You may be interested in reading this recent article on Ebola written by our Head of Programmes in East Africa.

The DEC have a Crisis Appeal for Ebola, and we have been directing people who wish to contribute to the Ebola crisis to two emergency response organisations: The Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders - the response is focused on providing medical assistance and preventing the spread of the virus.

I wish you the best of luck in your efforts and thank you for your interest.

Best wishes,

Jennifer

Jennifer Pullan
WaterAid

020 7793 4594
SupporterCare@wateraid.org

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
Team

Chris, is this someone who could advance the Keifer disinfecting idea you had ? https://openideo.com/challenge/fighting-ebola/ideas/replace-chlorine-sanitizers-with-non-toxic-water-based-food-grade-sanitizers-that-are-more-effective-do-not-harm-humans-plant-life-or-degrade-ppe

Photo of Chris Canaday
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Thanks for thinking about this, but that person is clearly trying to offer some commercial product of his own. Does anyone from USAID or OpenIDEO read what we write? Have you found a list of what they are currently doing to control Ebola? (I have looked but not found.)

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
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Ok, Chris. I've just written to them to see what's up~

Photo of Deborah Paterson
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Hi Chris, both USAID and OpenIDEO are active in reading the ideas on the platform. Here's a guide on the current design of personal protective equipment - https://openideo.com/content/personal-protective-equipment-ppe-guidelines-information. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) website is also a helpful resource for understanding current Ebola care strategies and efforts - http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html. I hope that helps!

Photo of Chris Canaday
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Thanks, Deborah, but there is no discussion of toilets on these links. Open defecation is responsable for spreading a myriad of other diseases and presumably also Ebola, so why is no one apparently doing anything about this? This model of toilet that I promote is so simple and inexpensive that one could be done for each individual and thus not have to worry about someone else who is sharing a toilet potentially having Ebola.

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
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I agree that the discussions (not just here, but in the media) are strangely silent on this aspect. Chris, I love the ecological aspects of your proposal. (although I'm not sure everyone would have the strength to dig a hole everyday for their waste...) My questions are: ***would there be a steady reliable supply of the recycled bags to bury?***would those bags be waterproof enough to deal with diarrhea/vomit? ***would burying be secure enough should the feces contain ebola ? most schemes show the need for special suits etc when treating the waste, so it seems open burial could lack necessary security?

So, I guess, if someone has a fever, has your system been tested as being secure enough against the possible virus ? It must certainly be more secure than just open defecation. I've been tweeting your idea to sanitation NGOs and got some retweets on it. I'll go on their websites as they haven't gotten in touch with you.

Talk soon.

Photo of Chris Canaday
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Hi Rebecca, are you @peacegalaxy ? I am @CanadayCL. The only tweet with #ebola #ecosan is my tweet. Help me find yours, pls. --- What orgs retweeted? --- These sacks are super common and could be cut in half to have twice as many. Brand-new they cost $0.30 retail in Ecuador. --- They do not need to be waterproof, if liquids soak into soil that no one will have contact with. In fact, it is better for decomposition, if the excess water goes away. --- Burying would be safe as everything decomposes ... and the time necessary can be researched, but 6 months is likely more than enough. --- Also remember the ArborLoo, which is also a great option ... and fancier, such that aid agencies may like to mass produce it together with the users.

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
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wrote to them for synergy http://sanitationdrive2015.org/about-us/

I think several solutons will be needed simultaneously. Yours for the non-sick. And perhaps a solution with burning for the sick until the epidemic passes?

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
Team

wrote to them http://www.wateraid.org/uk/what-we-do

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
Team

wrote to them: http://www.wsscc.org/contact-us
http://www.unicef.org/about/contact_39329.html
http://www.jhsph.edu/departments/population-family-and-reproductive-health/contact-us/

Photo of Ariel Martín Pérez
Team

Hello! I like very much this simple and clever idea for diverting the urine and the faeces :)

Vanessa Counaert, whose project is featured today, just encouraged me to share with you this project I wrote some time ago to treat human waste: http://papirofilia.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/a-propos-des-toilettes-seches-urbaines/

I think many of the ideas that are being shared in this forum can be connected, your system being the first end of the chain, then a distribution network and a treatment network. What do you think about this?

Photo of lameck dambuleni
Team

An interesting idea!would like to know more on how they work

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
Team

Hello Lameck et. al. It seems like this idea is a sketch for elaboration by sanitation specialists? Would bleach be needed to pour on such a "landfill" or container full of sewer bags?

Photo of Chris Canaday
Team

It is extremely simple. The part for urine is made from 2 bottles pulled out of the garbage (which could even be Coke bottles) and, with even the urine being infectious with Ebola, that can be emptied into shallow holes in the ground among crop plants and covered up. The feces are collected in empty rice sacks, covered with soil and before they get too heavy they can be buried in the ground, as near as possible to each home, to protect against Ebola transmission. After a year or more, the sacks can get dug up to use the great soil in agriculture and re-use the sacks for collecting more feces. See the full article,
http://inodoroseco.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-free-minimalist-uddt-part-1.html
http://inodoroseco.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-free-minimalist-uddt-part-2.html
Where people live more dispersed, there is never flooding, and there is a bit of budget, it would be great to make ArborLoos:
http://inodoroseco.blogspot.com/2012/08/scroll-down-for-english-en-abril.html
The point is to confront the problem with the resources we have at hand and not just look the other way.

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
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hi Chris, wouldn't you need to disinfect a dry toilet w/ bleach, for example to avoid contamination during an epidemic ?

Photo of Chris Canaday
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Rebecca, let's try to minimize the use of toxic chemicals, like chlorine, especially in contact with organic matter that will eventually reach the soil people will cultivate. Chlorine in contact with organic substances forms the extremely toxic family of chlorinated hydrocarbons, such as DDT and Dioxin. In combination with urine, it forms the toxic gas Trichloramine. The use of chlorine and toxic chemicals should be limited to disinfecting surfaces, where they can evaporate (and only contaminate the air a bit). All we need to protect against Ebola spreading out of these collections of excrement is a layer of soil (and to make sure that animals do not dig there).

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
Team

Thanks Chris. Reassuring to know there are simple, but safe ecological solutions. I was just having "flashbacks" to some toilet situations encountered traveling in India... So, a shovel & box of dirt next to the dry toilet? Seat over a pre- , machine-dug hole ? Have seen dry toilets used with wood shavings...lighter to handle. Would wood shavings provide enough protection for subsequent users?

Photo of Howard Boyle
Team

Are Public restrooms still open in the affected areas...? The public at large might demand the dry toilets if public restrooms were closed down in the affected areas of the world. The "modern world " might soon be scared to use ANY restroom outside the home if restrooms and toilets cannot be secured. Also, I just viewed a youtube video about sewer rats getting ebola from flushed feces. So, burying the contaminated feces under soil might be the safer method that Chris mentioned.

Photo of Chris Canaday
Team

Rebecca, people do not touch the feces sack while squatting over it during use and it can get changed by someone wearing gloves, so no need for chlorine except for washing the gloves. The urinal could get rinsed with some disinfectant AFTER emptying it into the soil and BEFORE the next person's use.
Here is a truly WILD IDEA to be tested: Ebola is transmitted from person to person, not through the ecosystem, so let's try to eliminate this virus by washing surfaces with the diverse ecosystem of bacteria and yeast in Water Kefir (or other fermented drinks). In this way, we could use something non-toxic and locally produced, instead of the inverse. Is there a lab that could test this for us?

Photo of Chris Canaday
Team

Rebecca, soil is better than wood shavings or sawdust, as it has a wealth of microbes that immediately start breaking down the feces, whereas bits of wood do not have a significant amount of microbes ... and almost none to breaking down feces. In fact, I recycle this precious soil, as you can see here (in English and Spanish):
http://inodoroseco.blogspot.com/2013/06/un-video-sobre-el-manejo-de-heces-en.html

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
Team

Chris, here's an idea for a well-placed partner to pick up/refine/test/help finance or find other synergy partners for the idea:? one of Matt Damon's causes: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/potty-mouthed-matt-damon-continues-430355 their site: http://water.org/ (i just sent off a note & tweeted idea for lab help you mentioned)

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
Team

Chris, got reply form letter (?) from water.org with these closest contacts to specialists in West Africa: GHANA
* Afram Plains Development Organization - apdo@africaonline.com.gh
* Rural Aid - http://www.wateraid.org/ghana/our_partners/4420.asp

Photo of Chris Canaday
Team

Thanks, Rebecca, for making this contact. Water.org has made the (funny) decision to be "technology blind" and not care what gets built, but instead just fund whatever the national partners. That is why they only gave you the contact info for national partners.

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
Team

Chris, can you contact health ministries in effected areas who may be able to put your idea (or some form of it) in place? I won't be able to do this for a good 8 hours or so if you can do it first... SIERRA LEONE https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ministry-of-Health-and-Sanitation-Sierra-Leone/281064805403702 LIBERIA https://www.facebook.com/www.mohsw.gov.lr

Photo of Chris Canaday
Team

I wrote to them. Thanks, Rebecca.

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
Team

Hi Chris, how do you like her proposal which built on your idea ? https://openideo.com/challenge/fighting-ebola/ideas/a-personal-portable-toilet-to-prevent-contact-with-foreign-bodily-fluids

Photo of Chris Canaday
Team

Does anyone know what USAID is currently doing to help to eliminate open defecation in the countries of the Ebola epidemic? ---- My suggestion here is aimed at not only contributing to controling Ebola, but all those numerous other fecal pathogens (that kill many more people in the world and even stunt children's physical and mental development), in a sustainable way, without poisoning these people's agroecosystems. ---- One of the most ridiculous things about modern life is to use precious clean water to transport excrement and then expect someone to do a miracle and get everything back out. This is a Minimalist UDDT and, once people get their minds around the concept, they can build nicer, more permanent models. ---- Some people are concerned that I use permeable, woven sacks, but these are extremely strong, inexpensive, accessible and re-usable, plus they allow water to evaporate out and oxygen to get in, so normal decomposition can take place and it all just become normal, healthy, rich soil. The disease containment is done by the dry soil we use to cover the feces and the sack just holds it all together and keeps smell and flies from coming and going. Any time there is excess liquid, more dry soil and wood ash can be added. If the sack is directly on top of ambient soil, these liquids can absorb directly into the soil, and --don't worry-- no one will want to touch this soil and it gets covered immediately by the next sack. ---- What do you think?

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
Team

for more stabiity: http://humanurehandbook.com/album_toilets/album_toilets.html

Photo of Rebecca Buechel
Team

Interesting read for "a day in the life of an ebola clinic" in Sierra Leone http://www.irinnews.org/report/100716/day-in-the-life-of-a-kenema-ebola-treatment-centre

Photo of Howard Boyle
Team

Sanitation is a urgent problem that needs more attention. Even a limited outbreak will scare people into shiting standing up in public restrooms. The mess from that will just be insane. Are people still using public restrooms in the most affected areas of the world..?

Photo of Chris Canaday
Team

Yes. This is urgent and no one is talking about it. The big powers are spending millions on plastic aprons while infected people are defecating out in the open.