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Sanitation

  • Human Waste: A Weapon of Mass Destruction

    What does 2.5 billion mean? If you think dollars in your pocket, 2.5 billion pretty much means you are set for life. In 2007, 2.5 billion described the number of iTunes music sales as well as the number of mobile phones in use. But 2.5 billion also describes the number of people who wake up each day with nowhere to go to defecate. So what do those people do? Defecate in the street. And that spreads disease.

    "It is scandalous that in 2009 [the diarrhea death toll] is like four jumbo jets of children crashing every day. Human waste is a fabulous weapon of mass destruction."

    Rose George, author of The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters

  • Moussa's Story

    Moussa Samake is from Dialakoroba, in Mali. Trained as a hygiene specialist, he ensures that the new village wells are being kept properly and also teaches people about good hygiene practices.

    He describes his important job:

    "I go around the wells to check that they are clean and that the buckets are hung up properly. If a well is not clean then we will call the committee members to come and clean it (each well has a committee of two women and one man)."

    "In the afternoon I go to visit families. I have pictures explaining hygiene and sanitation – how to wash hands and how to use and clean latrines. I use pictures as they have more impact. I show them pictures of good and bad hygiene and explain why children need to wash their hands before they eat and why food should be stored in covered containers. I tell people they should cover latrines otherwise flies will come and spread dirt around and make them sick. Most people accept the practices but others are reticent until they know what it is about. But it is not only one session – I go every day! I am very patient and explain things a lot of times."

    "Before this project it was like any other village here but now everyone uses latrines and it is clean. Before we had open wells and just after the rainy season we had outbreaks of cholera."

    "I like my job very much. I am getting a salary and I am from this village—there is nothing better than helping your own people."

  • Yaws, It's Not a Typo

    You might be thinking I mean Yawn or Jaws, but I really mean Yaws. It's a disease that children in tropical areas can get. Caused by a bacteria, yaws starts out with a sore where the bacterial infection started. Children get lesions and develop inflamed bones and fingers. If not treated, the child's skin and bones can be destroyed and disfigured.

    The good news is that yaws can be cured by penicillin if you treat it early. One shot would have prevented the man in this picture from a life of disfigurement. Can you imagine? The fact is that poor people in developing countries often can't get the treatment. They simply don't have access to health care.

    Why do children in the tropics get this disease in the first place? Overcrowding, poor personal hygiene, and poor sanitation.  Without adequate access to water, it's difficult to have good personal hygiene and sanitation.

    You have the power to help stop yaws and other diseases related to lack of water and sanitation.

  • The Peepoo Bag: A Mobile Toilet

    What to Do with Doggy Poo starts out "Everyone loves their dog but no one loves dog poop. These little mines are smelly, unpleasant and difficult to eliminate." Okay, but what if you and your neighbors are pooping in the street?

    That's what happens in many parts of the world where the poor don't have access to a toilet. One solution is the PeePoo bag. That's right, it's the same concept that we in the USA apply to the problem of dog poop. Except it's designed for people who don't yet have basic sanitation services.

    "The Peepoo bag is a toilet which is not fixed to a particular place. It is simple to carry since it is small and weighs less than 10 grams. The only thing one needs to do is find a secluded spot where one can use it as a toilet."

    About its effectiveness, the Peepoo people say :

    "The most obvious way to a solution is to start at the source. Prevent disease transmission as soon as possible through rapid inactivation of pathogens direct after defecation. In high density urban areas this means that a project that simply provides latrines cannot even be said to be achieving sustainable toilets. "

    Read about it yourself: Start thinking Peepoo bag. (The photo, which gives an idea of the environment many people live in, is from their site.)

  • Long-Distance Outhouse

    This piglet was having a grand time in the mud next to the outhouse I was using in the Sacred Valley in Peru. The ground you see surrounding the piglet is pretty similar to what I saw inside the outhouse, except that the outhouse has a hole dug into the dirt. I have pretty decent balance, which is a good thing. You certainly wouldn't want to slip and end up with a foot in the hole.

    Many Peruvians are upgrading their pit latrines to flush latrine. Instead of a dirt hole, there is a tile with a hole in it. The tile hole leads to a pipeline that's up to 5 meters long and ends in a sanitary pit. This set up is sort of a long-distance outhouse that keeps the smells and insects at bay. You might think that a flush latrine has running water piped in like we do in the US. That's not necessarily the case. One of the flush latrines that I used had a bucket of water for manually flushing.

    The big advantage over flush latrines from the one I used next to the friendly piglet, is that having water available for flushing means you also have water available for hand washing. Clean hands prevent disease!

    See Families in the Andes opt for flush latrines

  • Madagascar Children Under 5 Have a 50% Chance of Dying of Diarrhea

    "Because most schools in Madagascar have no access to running water, lack of hygiene and sanitation have become a major problem for children on the Southern African island. Many pupils fall sick regularly, are unable to attend classes and hence don't perform well at school." Fanja Saholiarisoa

    I recommend reading this article: Madagascar: Education Hampered By Lack of Clean Water.

    Help bring water to children. Donate to Blue Planet Run Foundation.

  • Diarrhea: The Unfashionable Disease

    Ever hear about the World Concert for Diarrhea? Or the Celebrity Chefs Fundraiser for Diarrhea? Diarrhea just isn't a disease that gets rallied for. It's hard to understand that diarrhea can kill you. In the USA, it is an inconvenience. In developing countries, it is a killer. Why?

    There are more than 100 microbugs that can cause diarrhea. A child who lives in village that has a bad water supply, limited water for hand washing, and no toilets, is likely to pick up one or more of these bugs at any time. These children can get one case of diarrhea after another.

    The intestines are smart. They detect a bug, they flush out the system. This smartness, however, deprives a person of fluids and nutrients. You can't go on very long without fluids and nutrients. That's why chronic diarrhea is a killer. It is one of the TOP THREE killers of children. Pneumonia and malaria are the other two.

    Recipe for curing diarrhea:

    A large pinch of salt, a fistful of sugar, and a jug of clean water.

    Sounds simple. I bet you have all those items readily available at home. People in developing countries don't. So simple, yet for lack of these three items, children are dying everyday from diarrhea.

    Want to read more? See A Simple Solution by Andrea Gerlin.

    Want to help? Donate to Blue Planet Run Foundation.

  • She doesn't have a pot to piss in

    The saying originated in medieval times before the invention of indoor plumbing. People used a chamber pot as an indoor toilet and then dumped the contents into the street later, a common practice in London. Only the very poor would not have a pot to piss in. We still use the expression today to refer to someone who is extremely poor. Unfortunately, this expression is a reality for all too many people in our world.

    This reality is especially hard on women and girls. The Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council says:

    "Lacking toilets in overcrowded slums means going the whole day without relieving oneself and then risking exposure—or even assault— at night, a humiliating daily routine that can damage health. Menstruation adds considerably to the need for sanitary facilities. Sexual harassment and rape are also a risk in rural areas, where women often seek privacy in the darkness, and in refugee camps, which all too often fail to provide safely located, women-only toilets. These realities absorb women’s time, imperil their physical well-being, and limit their free and equal participation in the economic and social life of their societies."

  • A Hundred Years Ago and Some Things Aren't Better

    A few days ago I received email about what it was like 100 years ago. Meant to be amusing, it listed many facts that were true in 1909 but are absurd to most US citizens today. See 100 Years Ago in America. The fact list starts out by saying ... "This will boggle your mine, I know it did mine..."

    After I read the email, I wrote the following back to the person who sent it to me:

    "What boggles my mind is that in the year 2009:

    1 billion people wordwide (1 in 6) do not have access to clean water.
    1.8 million children die every year from waterborne diseases, including diarrhea.
    40 billion hours are spent each year in Africa to fetch and haul water
    The top THREE leading killers of children are penumonia, diarrhea, and malaria

    How can we let this go on?"

    Diarrhea was listed as one of the leading causes of death in 1909. Many people find that absurd, but is it still true today. 

    It is amazing that while we are doing extremely well in the USA there are people around the world struggling as much or more than those in 1909.

  • Nematodes: The Thread-like Ones

    More 15,000 species of nematodes are parasitic. Nematoda, from Ancient Greek, means "thread-like ones." I suppose a small, thin worm is like a thread. Unfortunately, the human parasitic species -- like ascarsis shown in the photo -- is not as innocuous as a thread. Intestinal nematode infections account for almost half of the malnutrition in the world. (Photo courtesy of the Orange County Public Health Laboratory, Santa Ana, CA.)

    Adult female worms can grow to be almost a foot in length. Imagine a bundle of these things in your intestines eating the nourishment you supply. They are going to grow, and you won't. It's rare that you would ever get this disease in the USA. But children in tropical an subtropical areas are at great risk if they drink unclean water, have inadequate sanitation, or poor hygiene.

    Over a billion people are walking around with these worms. You can make a difference by donating to Blue Planet Run Foundation. Clean water is needed for good hygience.

  • Yes, It is okay to pee in the shower!

    GEORGE: Aha. Aha. Could it be because you don't want him to know that you have a friend who pees in the shower, is that it?!

    ELAINE: No, that's not it!

    Bathroom with toilet is the kind of shower that George Costanza would love. Demotech, a Netherlands organization, promotes unique solutions to improve lives. They propose a family unit bathroom that can accommodate bathing and sanitation. (Drawing by Demotech.)

    But wait—what's so unique about that? I have two of those "units." You probably have at least one as well. Many people in developing countries don't have indoor plumbing. They walk to fetch water and use an outhouse or maybe even the great outdoors to relieve themselves. The family unit that Demotech proposes is basically a closet-size area where you an throw a bucket of water over your head but you can also remove the drain screen and pee or poop down the same pipe used for the bathing water. George Costanza would be welcome here!

  • One Attempt to Solve India's Toilet Problem

    This headline sums up the problem: India Goes to the Moon While the Public Defecates in the Open. More than half of India's 203 million households lack a toilet.

    As you might imagine, public defecation is a huge health issue not to mention the humiliation that those without a toilet have to bear. This video, which is part of a larger documentary—The Human Excreta Index—describes a public toilet project in India. The toilet does not have running water nor does it have sewer pipes. How does it work? Watch the video (provided by The Water Channel) and find out.

  • No Toilet, No Wife

    The moral of a play that health workers are performing in villages in Nepal is that He who does not have a toilet will not get a wife. Health workers promote hygiene for everyone. But men are likely to miss the message because many go to India to work for 6 months out of the year. Using theatre is a great idea. The village shows lure most villagers, including the men. When the men are home, they get the hygiene message. The women must be happier! (Photo courtesy of the International Water and Sanitation Centre.)

    I don't know of many women in the US who would date a guy who didn't have and use a toilet. Would you? For more information about this and similar programs see the International Water and Sanitation Centre.

  • What's it like to be a 13 year old in Ethiopia?

    Thirteen year old Elmas Kassa lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    "I collect water four times a day in a 20 litre clay jar. Its hard work." Elmas Kassa said. "I have never been to school as I have to help my mother so we can earn enough money. Our house doesn't have a bathroom so I wash once a week and go to the toilet down by the river behind my house. I usually go with my friends as we're supposed to go after dark when people can't see us."

    This story is from the WaterAid website. Visit them to find out more and to donate.

  • A Recently Developed Cholera Vaccine

    Dukoral is a newly developed vaccine for cholera. Will those who need it be able to get the vaccine? Cost and logistics pose obstacles. The vaccine won't address the underlying cause of the lack of access to clean water and basic sanitation.

    Cholera is a disease you get from contaminated water and food. Although it is practically gone in the USA, it is prevalent in developing countries. It's treatable, but people can't get the treatment for many reasons.

  • What's it like to be a 9 year old in Ethiopia

    Densa Gatenah lives in Gond—a small village in Ethopia. WaterAid recently constructed a water supply for the village.

    Densa says:

    "Both men and women are responsible for collecting water here. Before the new supply was constructed we were using dirty water and so there was diarrhoea in the area. During the epidemic there were sick people in our home, but now they are cured."

    Densa Gatenah helps her father—a blacksmith and farmer—stoke the fire. (Photo courtesy of  WaterAid /Jenny Mathews.)

  • Ecards with a Conscience

    WASH (Water Sanitation Hygience) ecards help raise awareness of lack of clean water and sanitation in the world. You can send these free e-cards to your friends and family or even to politicians who might be able to make a difference. Some of these may seem outrageous to you, but each card highlights a different dire issue.

    The WASH campaign wants everyone to know about these issues in developing countries: health, human dignity, the plight of women, the high numbers of avoidable child deaths, and the economic benefits of improved sanitation.

  • Raising Malawi

    Malawi, like Niger, is a land-locked country. Unlike Niger, more than 20% of Malawi is water—Lake Malawi. Most people do not have electricity. Most people have a pit toilet; 18% of rural household don't have a toilet. Forty-two percent of the women in rural areas can't read. You get the idea. It's a poor country. There are 2 million orphans and vulnerable children.

    Raising Malawi's goal is to end extreme poverty in Malawi. Started by Madonna and Michael Berg, they support many community-based organizations. Check them out and see how you can get involved. (Photo courtesy of Raising Malawi.)

  • Stockholm Water Prize Awarded to Dr. Pathak

    Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of the Sulabh Sanitation Movement in India, is the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate. His Sulabh toilet saves trillions of liters of water each year. (Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons.)

    From the Stockholm International Water Institute:

    As the founder of the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, Dr. Pathak is known around the world for his wide ranging work in the sanitation field to improve public health, advance social progress, and improve human rights in India and other countries. His accomplishments span the fields of sanitation technology, social enterprise, and healthcare education for millions of people in his native country, serving as a model for NGO agencies and public health initiatives around the world.

    Since he established the Sulabh Sanitation Movement in 1970, Dr. Pathak has worked to change social attitudes toward traditional unsanitary latrine practices in slums, rural villages, and dense urban districts, and developed cost effective toilet systems that have improved daily life and health for millions of people. He has also waged an ongoing campaign to abolish the traditional practice of manual “scavenging” of human waste from bucket latrines in India while championing the rights of former scavengers and their families to economic opportunity, decent standards of living, and social dignity. 

    “The results of Dr. Pathak’s endeavors constitute one of the most amazing examples of how one person can impact the well being of millions,” noted the Stockholm Water Prize nominating committee in its citation. “Dr. Pathak’s leadership in attaining these remarkable socio-environmental results has been universally recognised, and not least by those who have secured the freedom of human dignity as a consequence of his efforts.”

    Read more about this remarkable man . . . .

  • Are you killing the rainforest when you wipe your butt?

    Texas toilt paper is evironmentally friendly. The soft plush TP from the grocery store might not be. From the Washington Post . . .

    ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. There is a battle for America's behinds. bIt is a fight over toilet paper: the kind that is blanket-fluffy and getting fluffier so fast that manufacturers are running out of synonyms for "soft" (Quilted Northern Ultra Plush is the first big brand to go three-ply and three-adjective).

    It's a menace, environmental groups say—and a dark-comedy example of American excess.

    The reason, they say, is that plush U.S. toilet paper is usually made by chopping down and grinding up trees that were decades or even a century old. They want Americans, like Europeans, to wipe with tissue made from recycled paper goods.

    It has been slow going. Big toilet-paper makers say that they've taken steps to become more Earth-friendly but that their customers still want the soft stuff, so they're still selling it.

    This summer, two of the best-known combatants in this fight signed a surprising truce, with a big tissue maker promising to do better. But the larger battle goes on—the ultimate test of how green Americans will be when nobody's watching.

    "At what price softness?" said Tim Spring, chief executive of Marcal Manufacturing, a New Jersey paper maker that is trying to persuade customers to try 100 percent recycled paper. "Should I contribute to clear-cutting and deforestation because the big [marketing] machine has told me that softness is important?"

    Read more . .

  • Who Needs the Academy When you Have the Golden Poo Awards?

    The Golden Poo Awards in London are held on October 15 to celebrate Global Handwashing Day. PooP Creative and the London International Animation Festival (LIAF) jointly promote a competition amongst film animators to produce short films, which tackle the serious issue of sanitation and / or hygiene in an edgy, irreverent and humorous way. These films are shortlisted for the event:

    • A Film About Poo - Emily Howells & Anne Wilkins
    • Dancing in the Loo - Delphine Mandin
    • For Your Convenience - Dan Castro
    • Poo In Passing - Peter J Speed
    • Are You Spreading Poo? - Rob and Tom Sears
    • Why Wash - Staffordshire University

    Who will win? We all win if you wash your hands!

    "Handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways
    to prevent diarrhoeal diseases and pneumonia, which are together responsible
    for the deaths, of over 3.5m children before their 5th birthday, every year."

    "Although people around the world wash their hands with water, very few wash
    their hands with soap at critical moments eg after going to the toilet, cleaning a
    child or before handling or eating food. The challenge is to transform handwashing
    with soap from an abstract good idea into an automatic behaviour performed in
    homes, schools, workplaces and communities worldwide."

    "This would save more lives than any vaccine or medical intervention. Global
    Handwashing Day
    is the centrepiece of a week of activities that will mobilise
    millions of people across five continents to wash their hands with soap."

  • From Great Britain: Hands in the North are Dirtier Than Hands in the South

    I'm in London, reading a disturbing article from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The article is one-year old, so I am hoping that the coming and going of two Global Handwashing Day events has helped clean up the situation in Great Britain!

    Here's the article. Any advice for me? I've got a few more days here.

    The further north you go, the more likely you are to have faecal bacteria on your hands, especially if you are a man, according to a preliminary study conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

    But women living in the South and Wales have little to feel smug about. In London, they are three times as likely as their men folk to have dirty hands, and in Cardiff, twice as likely. The men of London registered the most impressive score among all those surveyed, with a mere 6% found to have faecal bugs on their hands. Overall more than one on four commuters have bacteria which come from faeces on their hands.

    The Dirty Hands Study was conducted in order to provide a snapshot of the nation's hand hygiene habits, as part of the world's first Global Handwashing Day today. Commuters' hands were swabbed at bus stops outside five train stations around the UK (Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham, Euston and Cardiff).

    The results indicated that commuters in Newcastle were up to three times more likely than those in London to have faecal bacteria on their hands (44% compared to 13%) while those in Birmingham and Cardiff were roughly equal in the hand hygiene stakes (23% and 24% respectively). Commuters in Liverpool also registered a high score for faecal bacteria, with a contamination rate of 34%.

    In Newcastle and Liverpool, men were more likely than women to show contamination (53% of men compared to 30% of women in Newcastle, and 36% of men compared to 31% of women in Liverpool), although in the other three centres, the women's hands were dirtier. Almost twice as many women than men in Cardiff were found to have contamination (29% compared to 15 %) while in Euston, they were more than three times likelier than the men to have faecal bacteria on their hands (the men here registered an impressive 6%, compared to a rate of 21% in the women). In Birmingham, the rate for women was slightly higher than the men (26% compared to 21%).

    The bacteria that were found are all from the gut, and do not necessarily always cause disease, although they do indicate that hands have not been washed properly.

    Dr Val Curtis, Director of the Hygiene Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, comments: 'We were flabbergasted by the finding that so many people had faecal bugs on their hands. The figures were far higher than we had anticipated, and suggest that there is a real problem with people washing their hands in the UK. If any of these people had been suffering from a diarrhoeal disease, the potential for it to be passed around would be greatly increased by their failure to wash their hands after going to the toilet'.

    For the source, see Northerners' hands up to three times dirtier than those living in the South.

  • 80 Year Old Nguyen Lam Gets a Latrine

    An Interview with program beneficiary Mr. Nguyen Lam

    1. Where did you go to defecate before you had a hygienic latrine?

    In the daytime we went to the hill where there are lots of trees, 7500m -1000m away from home. At night we dug holes in the garden.

    2. What are the impacts of not having a hygienic latrine?

    It is a nuisance, especially when you have to defecate at night and when it rains. We had to wear raincoats and often got wet after finishing such a work. The water source in the neighborhood is contaminated. We often have diarrhea. The environment is polluted and smells bad.

    3. What about the effectiveness of the new hygienic latrine?

    We find it very convenient and comfortable to have new hygienic latrine. We don't have to spend much time when we need to defecate, and we don't have to bring any tools to dig holes to bury the feces.
    The environment is cleaner. We have less disease, especially diarrhea and cholera.

    4. Why did the local people take part in the program?

    Local people are quite aware of the health and convenience benefits of having hygienic latrines;
    We work together with everybody in our hamlet to participate in the sanitation activities of the community.

    5. Why was your family chosen to get the subsidy?

    We are one of the poorer families in the commune, so it is difficult for us to pay the full cost of the latrine ourselves; We are in the area where there are a lot of people interested in the program.

    6. If you haven't got the $20 of subsidy, would you have built this hygienic latrine?

    Without this subsidy, it might have taken us a long time to build this latrine or maybe we would not have built it. Our awareness of building hygienic latrine to keep the environment clean in the community is high so when we knew there was $20 of subsidy for anyone who wanted to build hygienic latrine, we decided to take this good chance

    7. What benefits that hygienic latrines bring to your family and community?

    The convenience and comfort. Also, your family will be recognized as an educated family. There will be fewer diseases. Health is better and safer. More families considered as educated families in the commune compared with the previous years. Economy improved because the health of the local people is better. Environment is green, clean and fresher. No pollution, less disease.

    8. Are hygienic latrine activities implemented at the same time as the clean water system?

    Yes, the construction of the clean water system and the hygienic latrines is implemented at the same time for 4 of 8 hamlets in the commune of Tam Anh Nam. The other four hamlets do not yet have any clean water systems. The government is working with the community to prepare a proposal to build clean water systems for these hamlets.

  • Happy World Toilet Day! Join the Big Squat at Noon.

    There isn't a Hallmark card for World Toilet Day, but there's a postcard !The Big Squat is one of today's celebratory events. It is simple to participate.

    The World Toilet Organization tells how:

    "At exactly noon on November 19th, gather your family, friends, classmates, colleagues and everyone you know to squat in public for 1 minute in support of World Toilet Day. This drives home the point "where would you go?" and how people without toilets are forced to go in public places. Notify the press to attend. Upload a photo of you squatting to encourage others to join."

    For more details see The Big Squat: A Movement for the Toilet-less.

    If squatting is not for you, watch the S*it Song by Larke. The GAS campaign promotes unglamorous and difficult issues. It tries to get people to talk about "toilet issues." Why? Until people are not embarrassed to talk about poop, toilets, and diarrhea, the 2.5 billion people without toilets are unlikely to get anyone to listen to help them get toilets.

  • You separate your trash, why not separate your urine and feces!

    The dry urine diversion toilet is designed to do just that. There are big health risks with handling feces. It can make you sick because it contains such things as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and parasitic worms.

    Urine is another matter. People have been using pee for eons to do such things as set dye colors. It's also a great fertilizer. In contrast to feces, urine is almost sterile and contains lots of nitrogen. So why not funnel off the urine and use for agriculture and let the poop go elsewhere?

    The dry toilet is popular in Mexico, South Africa, Finland, and Sweden and gaining footholds elsewhere. It also saves water.

    Find out more:

  • The Ideal Holiday Gift: A Toilet!

    Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's time to make those Christmas lists. I'm sure there is someone on the list who you feel obligated to give a gift, but has everything. Or maybe they don't have everything, but you haven't a clue what to get. Maybe you always pick out the wrong thing and your gift gets regifted or unused.

    This year, consider the perfect solution. A toilet. On the behalf of the person you need to get the gift for, buy a toilet for someone who really needs one. There are millions of people in the developing world who don't have a pot to piss in -- literally. Your gift recipient will get a warm, fuzzy feeling at the thought you put into this gift and the fact that your gift will have a major impact on the life of someone else.

    Vist the World Toilet Organization to find out how you can gift a toilet.

  • Can't Find a Gift to Give? Why Not Give a Sh*t!

    The goal of the ‘Give a Sh*t’ (GAS) campaign is to tackle the taboo of the toilet. They want you to talk about poop! I know that seems odd, as most of us prefer not to talk about toilet issues. We avoid the subject. GAS says we must talk sanitation because "so many people die when we let our embarrassment get in the way. There are 2.5 billion people, to be precise, across the world who are living without a toilet!"

    One of the things you can do to raise awareness of sanitation issues is to buy Luke Barclay's book "A Loo with a View" and give it to people on your gift list. If they look bewildered when they receive this book of outstanding photos, you can take the opportunity to alert them to the dire state of sanitation in the world. Advise your gift recipient to visit the World Toilet Organization website and gift a toilet.

  • Privatizing Sewage Treatment: Something Smells in Novato

    More and more communities around the world are finding that public utilities are being outsourced to mega corporations. Novato, a small city in Marin County, California recently made news in the New York Times (In Marin County, a Public Fight Over Private Control of Sewage). Novato wants to stop the French multi-national corporation Veolia from getting a contract to maintain the Novato wastewater treatment plant.

    The Alliance of Concerned Citizens of Novato is:

    " . . . an association formed by Novato residents to prevent the privatization (outsourcing) of the operations and maintenance of Novato Sanitary District's new $90 million wastewater treatment facility. ACCNovato is an alliance of citizens who wish to keep our Novato utilities public with local control!"

    Although the Novato wastewater agency has had its share of problems (investigated by the EPA and FBI For dumping sewage in the Bay), outsourcing to a French company is not the solution. Veolia has a poor environmental record. It also tried to buy the Novato district board elections to get Veolia sympathizers on the board.

  • Shift Happens

    That's the first chapter in "The Composting Toilet System" book. Compositing toilets are being considered by more and more urban people as water shortages threaten the earth. This book tells you all about them and how to choose wastewater and gray water systems that will meet codes. The price for a new book is high, but you can get used books from Amazon.