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We are the Ghana Sustainable Aid Project, and we’ve worked with Ghanaian and US engineers to create a toilet model that will change sanitation in developing countries forever. Right now, the poorly named VIP (Ventilated Improved Pit) Latrine is the primary toilet in Ghana and other African countries. The toilet is known for its bad odor, and ceases its decomposing functionality if water ever enters the toilets and tanks - which, of course, it does. The VIP toilets have even been known to collect methane and explode! The designer of the VIP toilet has admitted that the design does not work, and we've created a toilet that'll take its place.
Our Microflush-Biofil toilet is named for the dual technologies that make it innovative. The microflush valve allows the toilet to be flushed on less than two-thirds a cup of water - and it uses the handwashing greywater of the previous user, so no water is wasted. The biofil digester uses aerobic digestion with a tiger earthworm as the primary macro-organism and fly larvae, dung beetles and sometimes cockroaches as secondary players. Unlike the VIP unit, which has to be de-sludged every few weeks, the Microflush-Biofil toilet only has to be de-sludged every two years — and when the composted waste is removed, it can be used for agricultural purposes.
We've recognized the pitfall of not including financial and social infrastructure while constructing projects, and so the Microflush-Biofil toilet model includes both. We're creating a revolving loan fund that loans money to build a toilet to groups of four to six families, which can be paid back over the course of three years. This also avoids the issue of becoming dependent on donations - we believe that in order for a project to be sustainable, we should not give away toilets for free. The co-op model ensures that families will value the fact that they own their toilet, and will take care to keep it clean, unlike the public toilets which belong to nobody.
Lastly, our toilet is affordable. In Ghana, it costs about fifteen cents a day to use a public toilet, but the Microflush-Biofil daily cost is only five to seven cents a day for the first three years (as the loan is being paid off), and less than three cents a day after that. Of this cost, half are supplies like soap and toilet paper - they aren’t even related to direct maintenance costs.