Friday, April 13, 2012

Indigenous adaptation of ecological sanitation system

Indigenous adaptation:  an ecological sanitation success in 

Sendong aftermath

By Mike Baños

CAGAYAN DE ORO – A home-grown adaptation of an appropriate technology developed in Europe, Latin America and Africa has successfully proven itself in actual field installations during the aftermath of the Tropical Storm Sendong disaster in this city and nearby Iligan.

“Ecosan was piloted by the Center for Advanced Philippine Studies (CAPS) in Tingloy, Batangas in 2000,” said Dan Lapid, CAPS President. Similar initiatives have since been implemented in  San Fernando, La Union; Panglao Island, Bohol; Balit Infirmary Hospital in Agusan del Sur; Bayawan and Dumaguete cities in Negros Oriental; Cagayan de Oro City and Libertad, Misamis Oriental.”

But it wasn’t until after Tropical Storm Sendong rampaged through Cagayan de Oro and Iligan Cities last December 17 that it had a chance to prove its worth in an emergency.

Locally fabricated Eco-San toilets were deployed by the Water, Agroforestry, Nutrition and Development (WAND) Foundation in cooperation with the Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan Sustainable Sanitation Center and local partners in over 30 evacuation centers and schools in the two cities.

Dr. Elmer V. Sayre, in-house consultant, said WAND’s Eco-San toilet (also known as Urine Diverting Dehydration Toilet or UDDT) was originally designed to address the sanitation needs of the “base of the pyramid” (BoP): households too poor to afford their own toilets, those in remote areas not reached by government services, those with inadequate or no access to clean potable water, and those in conflict and/or disaster-hit areas.

“Present sanitation systems based on the flush-pour toilet operate on the premise that human wastes are better off disposed,” said Dr. Sayre. “But it is not effective in areas where there is no water or where septage is difficult to build as in the flooded zones of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro following the Sendong disaster.”

When the supply of potable water following the disaster became critical, especially in Cagayan de Oro, the dry/waterless Eco-San toilets proved a God-send.

“Ensuring sanitation for thousands of people during an emergency following a natural disaster is a challenge especially if the affected places lack water,” said Lilia GC. Casanova, CAPS executive director during a National Consultation Workshop on Guidelines for Implementing Ecological Sanitation in an Emergency held March 20, 2012 at Searsolin, Xavier University. “Until Typhoon Ondoy hit Manila in October 2009, sanitation during emergencies was not acknowledged as a concern.”

However, when portalets deployed in Manila after Ondoy and in Cagayan de Oro following Sendong proved too expensive to maintain and were rendered unusable after a few days, and latrines proved impractical, emergency workers turned to Eco-San toilets.

The Sustainable Sanitation Center of XU first installed two units each at the West City Central School and Macabalan Elementary School. WAND followed up with two locations in Cagayan de Oro and three in Iligan.  Some 158 units of the “single-vault” design (including 30 ceramic UD bowls donated by CAPS) were eventually deployed to various locations in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro for the duration of the emergency.

Built with locally available indigenous materials, one unit of the single vault Eco-San toilet could be built within half a day for as little as $112 compared to $2,790 for a portalet (incl. chemicals and installation). Daily maintenance costs for a portalet was $53 compared to $0.70 for the econ-san.

“Based on the experiences of the two cities and one academic institution that early on implemented the demonstration projects, the ‘Eco-san’ toilets have been shown to exhibit qualities that make it socially, culturally, economically and environmentally appropriate, making it a sustainable option,” wrote Ms. Casanova in her evaluation presented during the workshop. “These demonstration projects validated the results of researches and studies on the viability of the Ecological Sanitation system done by global institutions like the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI) and German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ, today known as the GIZ).”   

Urine and feces collected from the Eco-San facilities were collected on a daily basis by WAND crews in both cities and brought to the NGO’s Eco-Village Demonstration Farm in Libertad, Misamis Oriental where they would be recycled as organic fertilizer.

“We would like to eventually proceed to the next step and offer Eco-San for permanent relocation sites where the residents themselves can maintain the facilities and recycle the wastes as organic fertilizer for their vegetable gardens, bananas, trees and flowers  thus literally ‘closing the loop’ between sanitation and food security,” Dr. Sayre said.

World health statistics show inadequate sanitation facilities and poor hygienic practices cause debilitating water borne diseases which account for over two percent of the combined GDP of the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia.

The UN Green Economy Report released last year for the World Water Week conference in Stockholm, Sweden cited how the Philippines loses about $1.4 billion (in 2005 prices) or some 1.5% of its GDP to problems caused by poor sanitation and lack of access to a clean water supply.


  1. Mga Minamahal kong COCOTIDS,

    Greetings... may the blessing of our RISEN LORD,be with us all now and forever..

    I am LUISA GADON MOZAR, first batch COCOFED SCHOLAR from Ateneo de Cagayan de Oro (Xavier University) who graduated in 1979 with a Degree in BS Agriculture major in Food Technology.

    You may have heard much about the very HOT issue on COCONUT LEVY FUND.... this morning when I woke up, again it was the topic that the PRO-LIFE anchor of Veritas Radio were discussing. Last night, before I slept I made a decision to attend the 3pm Meeting of the COCOFED FAMILY. It will be this afternoon in Malate. I learned about this meeting when I read the suggestion of Dr.Tabil to check out with the COCOFED FAMILY page on FB.
    All this happened within 24 hours and after the radio program I searched more about the issue,. I feel that I must attend and was more convicted to meet with the other COCOFED SCHOLARS here in Manila.. WHY???

    * at first just to meet them for bonding or just curious kung saan at ano na ang narating ng mga COCOTIDS natin

    ** secondly, i just want to take a day off... after 3 months of caring for a 7 months old baby na iniwan ng isang ina
    at hindi na binalikan until now.

    **** but now, I am convinced that attending this meeting is a necessity.... I believe that we as the recipients of the COCOFUND, we must have a say in the use of this fund's dividend which amounted to almost P10 Billion(PhP)....we can influence the leaders (including the President) to set part of this fund as a SCHOLARSHIP fund and give priority for the AGRICULTURAL COURSES...just like the Original COCOFED Scholarship Program.
    We can show them the Directory of the SCHOLARS after 33 years (1979 to 2012). Having concrete evidence of the benefits of the SCHOLARSHIP Program under the COCOFUND,which I believe is a way to curve poverty in our country.

    This is the time when our country will be using our strength as the source of Agricultural Products thus the need for more technocrats in this sector. Leading us to become the true TIGER of the ASIAN ECONOMY.

    This is just my two cents opinion and I hope we can do something about this issue.
    Calling the Lawyers and the Judges and all those with more knowledge about this issue to come up with your bright ideas on how we can help bring back JUSTICE to our coconut farmers.

    This is payback period.. Let us act on this... marami sa atin maganda na ang buhay and it is time to share our time , talent and resources for another fight for JUSTICE.

    For the XU-COCOFED Reunion on August,someone/or a committee can work on a POSITION PAPER or RESOLUTION in which we can use the social media FOR THE distribution of our STAND.

    Maybe our Mommy Caling Lobregat will smile and she will be guiding us to do something to continue her legacy.

    GOD bless us all.

    Luisa Gadon Mozar

  2. Sorry, elmer, i felt the urgency to do this kung nagamit nako imo Blog to post my comment on COCOLEVY... I hope i did not offend your viewers.
    I am very interested to learn what you are doing ... I have a target site here in Antipolo city to do the same... I will be coordinating with you about this... Also in Malaybalay Bukidnon I own 7 has. land and my son who is graduating from CMU next year will handle it and I want him to do the same...I can not handle the coldness in Malaybalay thats why I migrated to Antiplo CIty , a reason in addition to my daughter studying here.

    Elmer, congrats to your endeavor and more should be adapting the same thing now that we are in the verge of famine.... let us help one another.

    God bless all..