Safe toilets help flush out disease in Cambodia’s floating communities
Phat Sanday is – in many ways – like any other village in Cambodia. There’s a school, a petrol station and a clinic.
However, unlike most of the other rural communities, nearly every structure here – at the southern end of Cambodia’s Tonlé Sap lake – floats. The primary mode of transport for the more than 1,100 families who live here is boat.
There is no village-wide sanitation system. Residents, whose livelihoods depend largely on fishing, defecate in the open or in latrines affixed to their floating houses, where waste is deposited directly into the water below. Everything ends up in the freshwater Tonlé Sap lake and river, which merges with the Mekong further downstream in Phnom Penh, the capital. The lake and river are a major source of income for hundreds of thousands of people. …
Taber Hand, founder and director of Wetlands Work, says the concentration of pathogens like E coli can fluctuate from about 200-400 units per 100ml of water to as much as 4,000 units per 100ml in the dry season. When the levels of pathogens are that concentrated, he says, “it’s septic”.
In 2009, he began designing the HandyPod; a simple, two-container system that filters pathogens out of wastewater. He says the version in use by nine households and a school today, priced at $125 (£100), is the most cost-effective.
- Health Care