Providing composting toilets for both community facilities and village households on Atauro Island.
The villages of Atauro Island do not have mains sewerage. People use drop toilets and many go to the toilet in the open fields. These existing practices are unhygienic and contribute to the health problems of the local people. There is a limited and unreliable water supply. The building of composting toilets supports the welfare and health of school students as well as providing hygienic toilet facilities not only for local people but also for visitors to the island.
Project description, cost and management:
The composting toilet adopts a local design developed initially for the use at the Tua Ko’in Ecolodge. The local IAFG facilitator, Marcelo, in conjunction with health administration officials, local chefes and community members, identify the sites for each toilet. Marcelo organises local labour and materials to construct the toilets. Communities are trained in the proper use and maintenance of the toilets. There are important advantages to having teams of local labour construct the toilets. Greater ownership of the toilets come from being involved in the construction and this is clearly seen in photos of community members following the toilet’s completion. An important flow on effect of the toilet construction is the injection of much needed cash into largely subsistence village economies.
It costs approximately $750(AUD)to build a toilet. There is some variation in the cost because of the remote location of some villages and the need to transport specific materials. Once the toilets are completed, and a sign made acknowledging the donor, a photo is sent with a very detailed invoice to the IAFG. Marcelo also facilitates an education process to ensure local people understand how to use and maintain the toilet effectively.
Across, 2020 to 2022 drought and the covid pandemic have made the completion of all the planned toilets difficult. The scarcity of water made making the concrete bricks and slabs very difficult. Most of the water in these times is carted from small springs some distance away. There have not been large scale Covid cases on Atauro but restrictions imposed to control Covid, in particular the cancelling of the Dili ferry has made getting supplies difficult. As these restrictions are eased we look forward to maximizing the construction of these toilets.
Over twenty toilets have been built on Atauro. Currently, the Friendship Group has committed to building between 3 and 5 toilets a year.
Since 2011 we have had numerous individuals and organisations who have donated funds to construct one or a number of toilets. We thank all of these donors. Currently the Kiewa/Tangambalanga Lions Club and Indigo Shire Youth Ambassadors have been on-going and generous donors to this project.