January 8, 2012

Toilets save hippos!

hippo_140_080112.jpgEcological toilets prove a great success for hippos in Kenyan wetland


New toilets in the Dunga Wetlands, Lake Victoria, are alleviating some of the conflict for living area between hippo and human populations.


With increasing pressure on available land, people have been moving into the Dunga Wetlands to utilise its rich soils.  These soils are, however, quickly exhausted, which means that more expansion of cropland is required, causing unprecedented local habit loss, effecting the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) – already  listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List  – and the spotted-necked otter (Lutra maculicollis).   

The eco-toilets simply collect and mix human waste with ash.  Several months later the waste can be safely used as a fertilizer for crops, allowing the villagers to grow more crops without having to convert further wetlands.   Unlike conventional toilets in the West, these are known as dry toilets, since they don’t require any water to function properly.   One local farmer in the area claims to have tripled his output of tomatoes every three months, as well as growing three sacks of cowpeas, three sacks of kale, and 500 onions. Another farmer doubled his output of kale.

The eco-san toilets have helped in another important way, since the hippos also raid the people’s villages because of their habitat loss.  With less loss, there will now be more wild vegetation for the hippos to eat.

Sources: Mongabay and the Centre for Rural Empowerment and  the Environment (CREE)


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