Toilets for All!

June 18, 2012

This guest post by Paul Rippey originally appeared June 5 on Savings Revolution, a blog covering savings groups, “the most exciting new approach to bringing safe financial services to people around the world.”   Thank you, Paul!

Meet Mr. Toilet from Jessica Yu on Vimeo. I had the honor of spending some time over the last couple of days with Jack Sim, the founder of the World Toilet Organization. Jack was here in Portland doing a series of visits and public appearances. If you haven’t seen the short video “Meet Mr. Toilet”, please click on it now and watch it – it’s only three minutes long. I’ll wait.

Hi – welcome back! Wasn’t that a great video? It premiered at the Sundance Festival to great acclaim!

It was a pleasure to meet Jack and hear about what the WTO is doing (that WTO, not the World Trade Organization), in part because I’ve just been in Burkina Faso and seen some of the great work that Plan Burkina Faso is doing promoting ECOSAN latrines through their savings group program. (ECOSAN latrines separate the urine and feces, and turn them both into products that enrich the soil. This is particularly pertinent in that Sahelian country where population pressure has shortened fallow periods, decreasing soil fertility drastically). Plan has built hundreds of latrines with partial subsidies, which is good; but other people in the villages have seen what the latrines can do, and have built their own with their own funds, which is wonderful.

If you believe that savings groups are a point of entry for other developmental activities, then by all means read up on them, inform your group members about the importance of good sanitation, and introduce them to new approaches to dealing with human waste. If your members are healthier, your groups will be healthier. And – let’s be frank – if they aren’t dealing with human waste appropriately, they probably aren’t very healthy now.

Just to save time, let me try to pre-empt the objection, “What do savings groups have to do with sanitation? After all, they’re financial institutions, not social institutions!” It’s true that Deutsche Bank doesn’t provide information on sanitation, but then, their customers already have clean water and enough to eat. Remember Maslow’s hierarchy, which essentially says, “If people are hungry, the first order of business is always, ‘What’s for lunch’!”

For more information, check out any of the links above, or just search the web for sanitation, composting toilets, ecosan, and so on – there’s tons of stuff.


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2 Responses to Toilets for All!

  1. […] way of feeling entitled to pee for free. After helping local sanitation group PHLUSH with two great summer events, I traveled out of the country with my partner while he completed company training. As Rose George […]

  2. […] After helping local sanitation group PHLUSH with two great summer events, I traveled out of the country with my […]

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Our Mission Through education and advocacy, PHLUSH helps local governments and citizen groups to provide equitable public restroom availability and to prepare for a pipe-breaking seismic event with appropriate ecological toilet systems.

Our Vision Toilet availability is a human right and well-designed sanitation systems restore health to our cities, our waters and our soils.

Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH) was founded in Portland, Oregon and today collaborates with groups across North America.

PHLUSH is a member of the World Toilet Organization and a partner in the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

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