By Lee Carter and Elizabeth Adlung
We have fantastic news! Our grant application for dry composting toilets was approved! US$212,236.20 provides education, training, and construction materials to 135 rural families for dry composting toilets. Rotary Midday, since 2008, has built many toilets and rainwater harvesting systems with rural families. These projects depend on the women who learn to organize and take charge of their lives.
Benita, from the village of Juan González near San Miguel de Allende, received the first dry composting toilet in her village and told us how important it is: “My dream has always been to have a toilet very close to my house. Now my beautiful daughters are safe if they need to go outside at night. There are no odors and no bugs. It has a nice little sink to wash your hands. My family feels safe and clean!”
Benita and several of her neighbors worked hard and learned a lot to be able to build dry composting toilets. Expertise and materials came from the Rotary Midday and its partner CEDESA (Centro de Desarrollo Agropecuario, A.C.). Recently, Benita told Lee Carter that she joined the first water harvesting project 10 years ago because her “end game” was a dry composting toilet for her family. That is foresight and dedication! Good for you, Benita!
Why are dry composting toilets so beneficial for Benita’s village?
Working with CEDESA, villagers determined that dry composting toilets would be a way to eliminate open defecation. More than 80 percent of families in rural areas have no other option. Dry toilets are practical because:
- Water is very scarce.
- Toilets don’t contaminate the water supply.
- Feces and urine produce fertilizer and organic compost.
- Construction uses inexpensive local materials.
- Sanitation prevents illnesses.
- Toilets near homes prevent violence against women.
What is the REAL reason this project is successful?
Lee Carter, project leader, explains:
“When we applied for dry composting toilets, we discussed illnesses that result from open defecation and why the toilets improve community and family health. Over time, the project has improved the health of families and communities. However, we have observed that the women participate for completely different reasons. The inspiration to go to class or to the construction site is that they dignify their lives by building a modern, safe toilet. A private toilet shows that the family is modern and brings respect and confidence. We at Rotary Midday have witnessed the change. We are proud of the achievements of our many projects. The biggest single indicator of a family moving up and out of poverty is having a bathroom in their home. No one can say exactly why, but it is a proven fact.”
What can you do to help?
Rotary is where neighbors, friends, and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders, and create lasting changes, including dry toilets, beekeeping, and many other projects. For more information and to contribute, contact President Skip Essick at firstname.lastname@example.org.