The house of Doña Soledad prior to the project
Today I want to tell you a story of responsibility and courage which we came across in our project. Doña Soledad is a single mother in her thirties (see picture), living on the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba (Bolivia) with her six children. She moved to the city several years ago and lives in an improvised one-apartment adobe hut. She makes a living on selling bakery and other food items she produces herself. Up to now, the family did not own a toilet or a latrine - "going to the toilet" for them meant going to field behind the house. For Doña Soledad, this not only implied a health risk to her and her children, but also a matter of (in)dignity – every time she was remembered to be poor and excluded from even the most basic services.
But Doña Soledad had a dream. Her dream was to have an adequate sanitary installation. Installing a conventional flush toilet was not an option because her house is not connected to the water network (she buys the water for drinking, washing and cleaning from a truck and stores it in barrels). Through the promotional activities of our project, she heard of the concept of Ecological Sanitation (EcoSan) and of a novel type of toilet, which does not require water for flushing - and on top, it generates fertilizer and compost. In a city with chronic water shortage and a mostly dysfunctional sewerage system, this is a very good option we want to promote further. Doña Soledad was very excited about the solution, because it not only solved a pressing problem for her family, but it also allowed her to do something for the planet- this was the decisive factor for her to apply for a credit.
The rest of the story is told quickly: Doña Soledad went to our micro-credit partner and applied for a loan. The conditions (9.5% annual interest rate and a duration of 3 years) beat any commercial offer on the national market – and it not only includes the product itself (the EcoSan-toilet and a sink), but also advisory services on behalf of the SODIS Foundation. After the construction was finished, Doña Solange also received an in-depth training on how to operate and maintain the system.
Today, Doña Soledad has an adequate sanitary service. She told us that she now can start inviting guests to her house and that she is proud to be the owner of the first EcoSan-toilet in her neighborhood. We are now working with different producers of components to make this toilet more affordable and faster to construct, so that in the future more people like Doña Soledad can have a safe, odorless toilet close to their home.
Our project continues to promote simple solutions to improve water and sanitation services with the support of micro-credit. In order to keep developing even better models and products, we need your support. Please consider making a donation to our project or tell your friends about it. Every donation makes a difference for people without access to water and sanitation services.
Thanking you in advance and with best regards from the whole project team,
P.S. Please mark October 19th on your agenda – this will be this year’s last chance to have your donation complemented by additional donors. Each donation we receive that day (up to the amount of 1,000 US$) will be increased by 30%, making your contribution even more effective than usually.
Construction phase of the EcoSan toilet
The finished EcoSan toilet
Doña Soledad and her children