Bill Gates supports affordable bio-toilets for Ghanaians
ACCRA, Jan. 14 – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has offered a grant of one million US Dollars to the Biofilcom, inventors and producers of biofil toilets to scale up to make the toilets available at cheaper cost.
With the grant, Ghanaians would now have to pay 600 dollars or about 1,300 Ghana cedis, instead of the previous 2,000 Ghana cedis to have a portable and easy to use toilet facility installed for a household of 10.
The inventor, Kwaku Anno, a mechanical engineer, said Biofil is expected to help Ghana achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on sanitation.
“The goal of Biofil is to get a toilet in every Ghanaian home, workplace and school, as the issue of sanitation cuts across all segments of society,” Anno said last Thursday at the launch of ‘Sanitation For All’ project being supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
He described as unacceptable the amount of fecal matter that people unknowingly breathed in from the atmosphere.
He expressed the hope that the technology would be a useful addition to those already available for eradicating the menace of open defecation in Ghana.
Over 70 percent of households lack household toilets in Ghana, which has been struggling to meet the 56 percent sanitation coverage prescribed by the MDGs.
Anno explained that the difference between the Biofil technology and other technologies available was the low price of his invention.
“The poor pay too much for sanitation services. This is therefore an opportunity for financial institutions to provide help in between so that poor households can deal with the sanitation situation,” he urged.
The available toilet types in Ghana include the flush water closet system with septic tank, central sewage treatment plant, KVIP (Kumasi Ventilated Improved Pit-Latrine), public toilet with holding tank, pit latrine, and the pan latrine, which was prohibited by law and was to be phased out by the year 2010.
The dumping of fecal matter in river bodies and open spaces due to the regular breakdown of central sewerage treatment plants is common practice in Ghana where sanitation coverage dropped to 13 percent in 2013 from the previous 14 percent in 2012.
As at the end of 2013, however, over 4,000 households and institutions had adopted the locally invented technology of Biofil, which was first piloted in 2005 and launched in 2008.
The Biofil, which most stakeholders consider to be a perfect solution to Ghana’s sanitation crisis, is a simple technology that uses a digester box measuring two feet –by deep and six feet long.
It has a series of filter media, including a special type of concrete that allows liquid to pass through. This filters the fecal matter which is flushed with a 250 ml of water compared with the 3.6 gallons or 13.6 liters of water at a single flush.
After the digester has completed its work, the waste water sips into the soil as normal water, while earthworms and other organisms feed on the execrator.
“Deputy Minister for Water Resources Works and Housing, Vincent Oppong Asamoah, commented that the new technology was what Ghana needed to deal with the sanitation menace confronting the country.
“The technology is a good initiative which must be supported by all stakeholders,” he stated, urging the World Bank and other bilateral and multilateral institutions supporting sanitation in Ghana to adopt the technology for faster deployment.
The deputy minister, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Domaa West, near Sunyani, 400 km north of the capital, promised to rally his colleague MPs to adopt the technology in their constituencies.
Alyse Schrecongost, Project Coordinator for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, underscored the need to improve urban sanitation across the world.
“This technology is a Ghanaian invented solution, and it is significant because you don’t normally find an invention in the country where the problem exists,” Schrecongost stated.
She said the intervention by the foundation was expected to bring down the cost of the technology to about 600 dollars per digester to make it cheaper for poor households. Enditem.