. Earth Science News .

Small is good in quest to resolve water crisis
by Staff Writers
Marseille, France (AFP) March 13, 2012

Can Peepoo stop the flying toilet?

A small Swedish company believes so.

At the World Water Forum in Marseille, it is promoting a cheap, smart fix for the world's billion slumdwellers.

Lacking mains sanitation, they have to defecate in latrines, the bushes or, in the security of their home, into a plastic bag.

Once its contents start to pong, the bag gets tossed into the street, a "flying toilet" that imperils health and neighbourly relations.

Enter Peepoo.

Devised by a Swedish architect with the help of his students, it comprises a slim bag with a larger liner tucked inside, both made of biodegradable plastic and designed to fit over a small pot.

Inside the bag are a couple of spoonfuls of granulated urea, an ammonia that eliminates germs and other nasties within two to three weeks.

After use, the bag is knotted and taken to a dropoff point -- where the family gets a small refund because the contents, after rotting, are sold for fertiliser.

Costing three euro cents (four US cents) each new, the bag is sold with its human waste for one euro cent (1.3 US cents).

"We are testing the business model in Kibera," said Camilla Wirseen of the Swedish firm Peepoople AB, referring to a notorious slum of Nairobi.

"So far, it is a huge success. People love it -- there are no smells in the home, the risks of diarrhoea spreading to other family members are reduced and the bag is cleanly disposed of.

"We have saleswomen who are setting up networks and selling the bags, and that way they make money for themselves."

Peepoo has hidden benefits, too, acting to prevent another scourge.

"They tell us that the number of young children who get raped while going out into the bushes to go to the toilet has fallen," said Wirseen, shaking her head at the phenomenon itself.

Production of the bags is currently 3,000 a day, but will ramp up to 500,000 a day from November to target markets in South Asia and elsewhere in Africa but also for stockpiling for disasters.

Peepoople are among a crowd of small, smart entrepreneurs who, alongside mega-corporations pushing their wares at the six-day fair in Marseille, see the world's water crisis as a source of profit and aid.

Dressed in a Hawaiian-style red, black and blue shirt, Jumpei Taniguchi is dazzling visitors by taking a beaker of filthy water and transforming the muck into drinkable water in less than a minute.

His company, Nippon Poly-Glu Ltd. of Osaka, Japan uses a granule formula that clumps bacteria, toxic metals and particles together, but does not use chlorine.

The "clumper," or flocculant, is polyglutamic acid, which is what makes the Japanese dish of fermented soybeans called natto so sticky.

Calcium is added to it to neutralise the negative, repellant electrical charge of particles. That way, the poly-glu sticks the particles together.

"The product is selling very well in Bangladesh," which has high levels of natural arsenic in its groundwater, said Taniguchi. "We have saleswomen, the Poly-Glu Ladies, who sell it in their neighbourhood."

Dutch engineer Henk Holtslag, wearing the handlebar moustache of a 19th-century inventor, works with Dutch non-government organisations which send their skills to developing countries.

He showed off a rope pump, a device with an ancestry going back 2,000 years.

Nothing could be simpler: you drill a hole in the ground and install a pipe with a loop of rope with knots that are just smaller than the pipe's diameter.

Turn the handle to make the loop go round, and the knots -- in this case, PVC caps -- bring up the water in spurts.

"If you install a rope pump costing just 100 dollars (70 euros), that provides water for 10 families," or enough to grow one and a half kilos (3.3 pounds) of grain per person for 80 people, said Holtslag.

The Dutch are training African technicians in making, installing and maintaining the pumps, thus enabling them to sell the devices to villagers and farmers.

Holtslag and others said the era of direct aid -- of donor and beneficiary -- was over.

Endowing local people with skills and harnessing the power of enterprise were the keys, said John Naugle of Relief International, a US NGO which has designed a flexible rainwater collector helped by a $4.5-million (3.5-million-euro) Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant.

The rugged $50 (38 euro), 1,400-litre (350-gallon) plastic bag is being test-marketed in Uganda, branded as "bob" and backed by eye-catching marketing.

"What happens when a direct aid project's budget is used up? It ends," said Naugle. "But the need for water is forever."

Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

At global forum, ministers pledge to tackle water crisis
Marseille, France (AFP) March 13, 2012 - A hundred and thirty countries on Tuesday urged the upcoming Rio Summit to speed action on providing the poor with access to clean water and sanitation and fix worsening problems of water scarcity and pollution.

But their declaration was opposed by leftwing Bolivia as failing to enshrine the principles of social justice, the right to water and care for the environment, and activists derided the arena where it was issued as a trade fair.

"We commit to accelerate the full implementation of the human rights obligations relating to access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation by all appropriate means as a part of our efforts to overcome the water crisis at all levels," a communique said.

The five-page statement, endorsed by 130 national representatives including 84 ministers, was issued at the World Water Forum, a six-day event gathering policymakers, businesses and water experts.

It also sketched aims for tackling water stress through better management and investment and for improving environmental custodianship of the precious resource.

It called for these aims to "be widely disseminated in relevant fora, including the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development," the formal name for the June 20-22 followup to the 1992 Rio Summit.

The declaration was backed by a petition with 130,000 signatures organised by Solidarites Internationales, a French group, which demanded access to water for the poor.

But the communique was contested by Bolivian Environment and Water Minister Felipe Quispe Quenta.

According to journalists who attended the ministerial plenary, his microphone was cut off, purportedly for time reasons, after he said the text did not include clear references to social justice and the right to water.

"We expressed our disagreement when the statement was being drafted and we were not heard. Bolivia does not go along with this ministerial declaration," the minister said to reporters after the session.

A Canadian NGO, the Council of Canadians, described the Water Forum, held every three years, as "the Davos of Water... a non-democratic forum run by multinational water corporations."

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of a small US NGO, Food and Water Watch, said the Forum was viewed with suspicion by many grass-roots organisations on water, sustainable development and the environment.

"I think there is no interest (here) in having a debate or dialogue," she told AFP.

"We have a trade fair that is being promoted as a ministerial, but what we really need is the UN to take hold of the process. We cannot have the water industry dictate the issues."


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Israel says it backs Gaza Strip desalination plant
Marseille, France (AFP) March 13, 2012
Israel said Tuesday it backed Palestinian plans to build a desalination plant in the Gaza Strip and was willing if requested to provide its skills for the project. Asked by AFP on the sidelines of the World Water Forum if Israel supported the scheme, Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau said, "By all means." "We have been waiting for such projects for many, many years. It is high time, a ... read more

Japan's nuclear disaster: a timeline

Japan strives to win back tourists

Meltdown intel emerges ahead of Japan anniversary

Nothing stirs in Japan's nuclear ghost town

AU Optronics guilty in display screen price-fixing case

China prepares rare earths defense

Lockheed Martin Space Fence Radar Prototype Tracking Orbiting Objects

Lost smartphones mined by finders: Symantec

Mauritius, Seychelles to jointly manage Indian Ocean shelf

Oceans Acidifying Faster today Than in Past 300 Million Years

Small is good in quest to resolve water crisis

Israel says it backs Gaza Strip desalination plant

China to conduct Arctic expedition

S. Korean, Russian scientists bid to clone mammoth

NASA Finds Thickest Parts of Arctic Ice Cap Melting Faster

Greenland icesheet more vulnerable than thought to warming

Commonly used herbicides seen as threat to endangered butterflies

Auchan supermarkets reports profit rise on action in China

Myanmar soldiers shot dead China farmer: Beijing

World breakthrough on salt-tolerant wheat

Tropical Storm Irina kills three in Mozambique:official

Greek volcanic island shows activity

Small tsunami hits Japan after 6.9 quake

Effects of flooding on Cairo

Bloodhounds deployed to fight elephant poaching in DR Congo

AU troops to replace Ethopian forces in key Somali cities

Former Ugandan child soldier backs viral video

Mali rebels strike amid post-Libya anarchy

Knowledge gap widens gulf between South Asian nations

Human-like fossils in China caves puzzle scientists

First Evidence of Hunting by Prehistoric Ohioans

Lockheed Martin and ZyGEM To Offer Rapid DNA Analysis Platform for Human Identity Testing

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement