My Fly Free Village
When basic latrines are not properly cared for, they can produce unpleasant smells and attract flies. When these flies land on food, the faecal matter and bacteria that they pass on can cause disease, most seriously diarrhoea and cholera.
In Phuteya village in Phalombe District, however, EcoSan latrines (Fossa alterna) have been constructed, which produce no smell and attracts fewer flies. The EcoSan latrine requires users to place a handful of ash followed by two handfuls of sand to cover the faecal matter. The most significant benefits of the EcoSan system are threefold.
Firstly, the mixture of the faecal matter, ash and sand can later be used as manure for farming. Ellen Mitengo, one of the village residents said: “I adopted the EcoSan latrines after I was told the benefits of the latrines that it produces manure, it does not attract flies and it does not produce smells”. Given that the majority of small scale farmers in Malawi don’t have access to or funds for natural fertiliser, the EcoSan system provides a cost effective way to produce compost for agriculture. The Fossa alterna design, as used in Phuteya Village is particulary efficient in this regard, allowing for the use of one pit while the other decomposes into compost.
Secondly is the benefit of attracting less flies and thus reducing the chances of disease transmitted through faecal matter. Currently, only 53% of Malawi’s population has access to improved sanitation and 6% still practice open defecation. The EcoSan latrine has provided Phuyeta Village with a solution to two key drivers of ill health, by disposing of the excreta and reducing the propensity for faecal and fly transmitted diseases. The Group Village Headman boasts; “My village is the smartest village because of the Ecosan latrines that have been constructed”. He further noted; “It is my wish that all villages in Phalombe district should have EcoSan latrines so that the district should be without flies, without latrines smells and without diseases caused by flies like cholera and diarrhoea”
Finally, the EcoSan system provides business and economic opportunities for the local masons who are trained by United Purpose to build and maintain the EcoSan latrines: “I have constructed ten EcoSan latrines in this village and money which I got for constructing these ten EcoSan latrines I have been able to buy a motorbike and five bags of maize” told Isimalla Lipamba, one of the local masons in Phuteya village.
Photo: Ellen Mitengo in front of her EcoSan latrine