Bio-toilets flush away water shortages in mountainous Ha Giang province

By Nguyên Minh   April 12, 2016 | 11:26 pm PT
Six bio-toilets have been installed at Ho Quang Phin Ethnic Elementary School in Dong Van district, where there is a serious shortage of water.

Dong Van is a rural district of Ha Giang province in the northeast of Vietnam. It is located in a rocky limestone plateau region and frequently experiences severe water shortages in the dry season.


Unsafe sanitation is a significant problem in schools and causes problems for children, as well as the community, through the heightened risk of gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases.


Ho Quang Phin Ethnic Elementary School is located in Ho Quang Phin commune, Dong Van district, Ha Giang province. In the 2015 - 2016 school year, there are 23 classes with 444 students and 36 teachers. Most classes have a shortage of toilets and a serious shortage of water.


Most classes located in villages do not have any toilets and children have to use the field.


In order to remedy the situation, the Australian Government has worked with the Centre for Mountain Development (CMD), the Institute of Population, Health & Development (PHAD), CHODAI Co. Ltd from Japan and the Environment & Equipment Technical Corporation (ENVITECH) from Vietnam to install bio-toilets at Ho Quang Phin Ethnic Elementary School. After a handover ceremony a few days ago, six bio-toilets are now ready for use.


The bio-toilet does not require water to decompose biological waste and produces little odour. It operates on the principle of decomposing organic compounds by the use of activated charcoal and microbes to kill harmful bacteria and parasites.


No pits are required and maintenance is low, with pad cleaning required every three years, which can be managed locally. Making the activated charcoal is a simple procedure using school waste such as paper and bamboo, and this will be taught as part of training for the local community to maintain.


The instructions include lots of pictures for children to follow easily. Each toilet has a capacity for 100 uses/day which will easily cover the needs of the children at the schools. The toilets are housed in locally sourced bamboo shelters.


Hugh Borrowman - Australian Ambassador in Vietnam - inspects a dry soap box in front of a bio-toilet. He also thinks bio-toilets are suitable for many tourist spots in mountainous areas. This Direct Aid Program (DAP) has been provided 395 million VND (approximately $17,800) by the Australian government to install bio-toilets in Ho Quang Phin.


Hugh Borrowman and pupils from Ho Quang Phin Ethnic Elementary School.

Photo by Nick M.

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