Thursday September 13 2018

Town in latrine crisis over high water table

Karago Town Council leaders inspect an ecosan

Karago Town Council leaders inspect an ecosan toilet built to solve the high water table problem on August 10. Photo by Alex Ashaba 

By ALEX ASHABA

Kabarole. For a long time, Karago Town Council in Kabarole District has had a sanitation problem.
In many areas, construction of pit-latrines is a problem, which forces residents to defecate in open spaces. As a result, faecal matter is always littered everywhere, putting lives at risk.
Failure to construct pit-latrines has been attributed to the topography of the area where the water table is high, leading to water logging.
A water table is the level at which underground soil and gravel are completely saturated with water. There is often some seasonal change in the water table due to rain or drought. The water table is generally higher in areas with high density soil related to clay content.

Extent
“Our place is water logged and the water table is high. We now have to use other technologies to ensure that every home has a toilet, most especially in the trading centre,” says Mr John Baptist Katusabe, the town clerk.
The town council chairperson, Mr Bright Patrick Rwakwege, says when one tries to dig three metres deep, they meet water.
Mr James Businge, a trader, says on market days, the shortage of pit-latrines is more manifest when many people come to the town.
“The challenge we have here in the town council is that many of the buildings do not have toilets, which puts the health of the people at risk because any time we can have an outbreak of diseases,” Mr Businge says.
Area leaders are now involving stakeholders in a bid to find a lasting solution to the problems.

Rich with no latrines
“People have good houses, especially in town, but with no toilets. What we want now is to sensitise the people to construct modern ecosan toilets to reduce the risk of diseases,” Mr Rwakwege says.
The ecological sanitation (ecosan) toilet is based on the principle of recovery and recycling of nutrients from excreta to create manure. When the pit of an Ecosan toilet fills up, it is closed and sealed. After about nine months, the faeces is completely composted to organic manure and can be used on farms. When the first pit is closed, users can switch to using the second pit.
Ecosan toilets require one to dig five to seven feet depending on the size of the toilet one needs and later cemented and the shelter erected on top.

Mr Katusabe says they have partnered with NGOs to construct the environmentally friendly toilets. One of them is Natural Resources Defence Initiatives (NRDI).
Mr Chris Amanyire, a field officer at NRDI, says since June, they have been building the toilets for residents.
“We have built four toilets in Karangura and Karago sub-counties and the reason we started this campaign is to ensure that people have modern toilets because some people use bushes to ease themselves and this is a health risk,” Mr Amanyire says.
The 2014 national housing census indicates that 2.2 per cent households in the district do not have toilets and 3.3 per cent Karago Town Council.

SOLUTIONS
How ecosan toilet works. The ecosan toilet comprises one or two chambers, a pit that does not exceed two metres deep which is sealed with concrete to prevent contact between excreta and soil, a separate pipe for urine, and a vent pipe to trap flies and other insects, and lids on the side, front or back to remove the composted matter.
Water coverage. According to the International Water and Sanitation centre (IRC) Uganda, Kabarole has about 2,000 water points, whose access is at 78 per cent. Rural functionality is at 82 per cent and urban functionality is at 81 per cent.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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