Assessment of Maintenance and Agricultural Practices Among EcoSan Toilet Users in Bolivia Open Access

Kraemer, Kenzie (2015)

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Background: Worldwide, about 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation which contributes to approximately 10% of the global burden of disease. Bolivia is the only country in Latin America where less than half of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities. Ecological sanitation is a promising solution that increases coverage of sanitation and is sustainable.

Methods: In 2007, a cross-sectional household survey of knowledge, attitudes, and practices was conducted across the three ecological zones of Bolivia. A total of 228 surveys were conducted using convenience sampling methods in 12 communities. Among the 12 communities, nine participated in EcoSan interventions between 2000 and 2007. We examined the demographic characteristics of the study households by type of sanitation facility. Among EcoSan users, maintenance practices were described to determine compliance with recommended EcoSan guidelines. Descriptive statistics and odds ratios were calculated to compare EcoSan users and non-users and to assess the impact of EcoSan toilets on agricultural practices.

Findings: Among the 228 households interviewed, 97 were EcoSan users and 131 were non-users. Of the 97 EcoSan users, 91.8% reported adding drying materials to the storage chamber after each defecation. Ash was the most common drying additive used (68%). The average storage time was 15 months (range 1 to 84 months). EcoSan users were more likely to use the stored human excreta and urine on household gardens and/or crops than non-users. Among non-users, 17.2% reported using urine on gardens and/or crops. Among the 81 EcoSan users with gardens and/or crops, 38.2% reported using urine and 25.9% reported using human feces on gardens and/or crops. EcoSan users with gardens and/or crops were 9.6 (95% CI 3.01, 30.68) times more likely to use urine on gardens and/or crops than feces.

Conclusion: While EcoSan toilets can be a promising approach for safely containing and converting human excreta into valuable agricultural products, less than half of EcoSan users reported utilizing EcoSan fertilizers on gardens and/or crops. Nearly all households reported compliance with recommended WHO maintenance and storage guidelines, however 66% of samples taken from chambers tested positive for Ascaris. Because the recycling component is one of the featured benefits of EcoSan toilets, there is a need to understand the barriers to achieving full pathogen inactivation.

Table of Contents

Chapter I: Literature Review. 1

Chapter II: Research Objectives and Rationale. 13

Chapter III: Manuscript. 14

Introduction. 14

Methods. 17

Results. 21

Discussion. 30

Chapter IV: Lessons Learned and Recommendations. 39

References. 42

Tables and Figures. 45

Appendix: Survey Instrument. 59

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