Chad Composting System

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Composting Human Waste in Chad

Three most common methods of handling human waste in Chad:

  1. No toilet facility and human waste is deposited on the ground (open defecation)
  2. Flushing toilets with leach fields
  3. Non-composting pit latrines (shown below)non-compostingpitlatrine.png

Composting toilets are solving two problems in Chad: improper handling of human waste and poor crop yields. Excreta-produced pathogens can cause Typhoid, Cholera, Diphtheria, Dysentery, or Diarrhea. Safely composting human waste minimizes these risks, and creates value by producing fertilizer. In Chad, the common agricultural practice is “slash-and-burn” which damages soil. Applying composted human waste during the farming process allows Chadians to farm the same land year after year without pollution and risks associated with chemical fertilizers.

Our contact is Mark Heath, the Vice President of Norwest Group, link?
an international company that provides construction, management, and technological support for projects in the developing areas of Africa. Composting toilets relate to Mark’s environmental work in Chad. Mark says his company embraces a “very pragmatic, business-like attitude towards ‘appropriate development’ work: if it will not turn a profit and allow the locals to continue to operate it profitably, [they] are not interested in participating.” Why start a project if it will die anyway?

Here is some of Mark’s work:
Composting pit latrine

Composting (Bucket) Toilets

Technical Model of Composting Toilet System in Chad:

Due to potential risks from pathogens in human excrement and urine, they practice “central composting” instead of having individual families handle their waste. A “composting technician” is responsible for swapping full buckets with empty ones and supplying biomass to cover waste. He/she takes all waste to the Central Composting Site and tends to the pile. This system ensures there is always a trained person who knows how to safely handle and compost the night soil. Aeration and turning piles (compared to static piles) speeds up the process, allowing compost to be generated in a couple months instead of a year.

Untreated Bio-solids



Humanure composting pile

In a public setting, the trained Composting Toilet Technician checks in hourly to ensure toilets are clean and tidy, switches full buckets with empty ones, and maintains the bio-mass supply. Sitting toilets are preferred over squatting toilets, which are more expensive to build (must excavate pits and build platforms). Sitting toilets also provide an “ego-advantage” because they appear more western. The single biggest maintenance issue is cleaning urine residue from male standing users.

Sometimes there is a resistance to using bucket toilets, and this can usually be attributed to a lack of education. People who lack the scientific knowledge to understand the composting process (temperature mortality for pathogens, etc.) are unlikely to understand a scientific explanation. To overcome this problem, a demonstration garden is used to feed and educate users on the benefits of composting human waste.