Friday, 18 October 2013

Fake poo testing the pour flush

How do you know if a flushing system will work or not? You test it with poo of course!

Well that's not such a pleasant experience so we decided to make some fake poo. The Environmental Protection Agency of America say to use the Maximum Performance (MaP) Testing Toilet Fixture Performance Testing Protocol. Basically this involves getting some soya paste (not so easy in Uganda), extruding a 10cm x 2.5cm cylinder of it and covering it with a condom. The only soya paste we could find was pretty runny (not a healthy poo) so we mixed it with some kaolin clay to make a firmer stool and popped it in some condoms - not sure why George insisted they needed to be black and ribbed though.

You then pop these in to the pan and U-bend you're testing. Chuck 2 litres of water down it and see if the little darlings pop out the other end.

We found a pan and ceramic U-bend that works well with 2 litres of water available on the Ugandan market.

We're currently adapting's chamber box from their easy latrine to take this pan.

Richard will then work with entrepreneurs to sell standardised flushing systems to households and masons. This will also form an integral part of the Dura-San modular latrine so households can have the option of employing a mason to build a brick structure or a Dura-San structure.

The entire structure will look something like this.

The Dura-San

One of the main challenges that has been identified for households to purchase latrines is in the trust between the household and the mason constructing it. Often a householder will go out of their way to buy materials for the mason and only pay him for labour because they don't trust that the mason will be honest in what he purchases. Furthermore, many of the materials available on the Ugandan market are inconsistent so a mason may not be able to buy something as good as expected by the householder.

An answer to this is to produce a standard construction kit; which we've dubbed the Dura-San. Water For People worked with John Parry's Associates to produce mortar less block construction system and then refined the idea in Uganda. We first worked with a large materials manufacturing company called Multiple Industries but found more success with a medium sized enterprise called Turn Key. Concrete manufacturers are quite common in Uganda but ensuring that they produce quality products could be a challenge.

The idea is reasonably simple. Concrete blocks are cast and left to cure.

Once the blocks are cured they're put together by slotting plugs between the holes at the end of the blocks.

Finally a door frame is added at the front and a concrete roof.

It is still a work in progress and requires for a modular pour flush system be produced but, as opposed to our feelings, must people don't think it's ugly and we've had a lot of interest following the trade fair.

The basic idea will be for a concrete manufacturer to be the producer and installer of the latrine, therefore cutting out the need for highly skilled masons and the increasing the trust between the householder and the latrine supplier.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Tin Latrine

We're not marketing it as the Tin Latrine but that's the loving name we've given it at Sanihub!

The problem that many people have is that they don't have a reliable latrine product to invest in so don't want to take the risk of saving up or taking out a loan. Masons, like builders all over the world, are notoriously unreliable and often leave a job half done. So to solve part of this problem we're developing latrine products like this one so that people know that they can buy something that is reliable and affordable.

The idea is that a carpenter can build the latrine from wooden planks and corrugated iron sheets in panels, as shown in the second picture. This can then be transported as a 'flat-pack' like an IKEA piece of furniture and sold through SACCOs (Micro-Finance Organisations in Uganda) to rural households. As we've semi-centralised the production process we can work with the carpenter to ensure consistency and improve the product in line with feedback from the customers.

We've currently got it in production in the Mbale District in Eastern Uganda and are supplying a couple of SACCOs who have a steady number of orders, but this can be improved! The structure costs 400,000-600,000 Ugandan Shillings ($150-$250) which can be afforded through a loan from the SACCO.

It's not perfect and it's not the end of development. But it's a good start to see how much people are willing to pay for their latrines and generate customer feedback to make better products.

The Gulper in the press

A few videos showing The Gulper in action with our partners at SAAB Uganda, Captiva Africa and over in Malawi.

The Standard Gulper

This is a Standard Gulper. It operates like a borehole pump or a tyre pump in reverse. At the bottom is a one way butterfly valve and on the plunging rod is another one way butterfly valve. You push the pump through the hole in the pit, pump and sludge rises up to the outlet. It's a simple design but it's currently one of the most reliable sludge pumps in the world. It only costs a couple of hundred dollars, it's fully manufactured in Uganda and the SAAB Team are using it to develop businesses that empty pits. So if a persons pit latrine is full they can have it partially emptied and continue using it.

Welcome to Sanihub

Sanihub is a project in Kampala, Uganda, run by Water For People and facilitated by Engineers from Engineers Without Borders UK. Our aim is to create simple and affordable goods and services that people on low incomes can afford to buy.

Currently we're working on new latrine designs, pumps to empty full pits, logistics systems to transport the sludge and cheaper treatment options. We're doing all of this with the Sanitation As A Business Programme so that people can make businesses that make money.

We look for a double win. Improve the quality of life of people with a low income by offering better goods and services whilst improving the quality of life of people in business by supporting them to start businesses.