Donate

Ecological latrines in Luis Cabral, Maputo

By Hélder Samo Gudo, WaterAid Mozambique

5 Jun 2014WASH Matters

Like many neighbourhoods located on the outskirts of Maputo, the Luís Cabral neighbourhood faces serious problems of access to basic services such as water supply, sanitation, solid waste management and faeces disposal infrastructure. This contributes to the outbreak of diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera and is damaging the health and wellbeing of the local population.

Environmental challenges

Ecological laterines in Mozambique

Apart from the difficulties in accessing adequate sanitation facilities, Luís Cabral is located in an area where the water table is high and soils have difficulty absorbing rainwater. When it rains, the improved and traditional latrines become water-logged and faecal mud can flow on to people’s property.

Because of these problems, and WaterAid’s experience of using ecological latrines as a viable solution in low-lying and humid areas, Luis Cabral was selected for the Kubasisa Muganga project, which is co-funded by the European Union.

WaterAid Mozambique and a local partner explained the ecological latrine to families in the area and showed them the advantages this type of latrine brings for hygiene and the environment. They also explained the benefits of using urine and faeces in agriculture as a fertiliser.

Initially, the idea of using urine as fertiliser was not well received by the community, as they did not understand how this was possible. Many feared health risks. A demonstration and a discussion with other communities that have already benefited from this type of technology persuaded ten families from Luís Cabral to join the project. Although unsure at first, the families now produce vegetables using urine as fertiliser.

The results are visible in the fields of Luís Cabral where they produce cabbage, lettuce and onions. The ecological latrines increase family incomes as they no longer need to buy chemical fertilisers. There are also significant improvements in hygiene and the latrines no longer cause bad smells or attract flies.

“Use urine to make manure?”

Using urine in manure, Mozambique

Luis Manjate, a former worker of Mozambique Railways says he embraced agriculture in 1976, when he stopped working in the company. Since then, he has used various farming techniques, but using urine to fertilise crops was new to him.

He says, "When I was told about using urine as fertiliser, initially I found it strange. Use urine to make manure?” He thought it could bring diseases. The awareness raising and technical support provided by WaterAid Mozambiquereassured him.

"My doubts were clarified by the WaterAid team and so I joined the project. Today I have urine as the best fertiliser. The cabbage that we produce in the fields where we applied urine grows in 30 days. With other fertilisers we would need 45 days. For me this is good and more profitable.”

Despite the benefits indicated, Luis says that there are people who still do not know that urine can be used as fertiliser. He thinks this is a belief that needs to be demystified for both the producers and consumers.

Luis says that in addition to having improved production, the ecological latrines and the use of urine as fertiliser have also improved hygiene. "With this latrine, our hygiene has improved a lot; we don't have so many flies and bad smells anymore. It would be great to expand the project to other families.”

This article is part of our WASH Matters series, regular insights into our programme and project work in Africa and South Asia. Discover more here >