Sustainable Bolivia volunteer Kevin Kurz is an absolute legend. Energetic, dedicated, and beyond charismatic, Kevin parked his 65L Gregory backpack in Cochabamba and has spent the past 2 months working in the Cochabamba suburb of ABRA with CECAM Bolivia to design and install the community’s first composting toilet. Gracious as ever, Kevin wrote a quick synopsis of CECAM’s latest project. On Wednesday, October 10, SB accompanied Kevin to ABRA for the inauguration of CECAM’s latest Baño Seco. Here’s what we found.

Composting Toilet Project

CECAM is working with the peri-urban communities of Cochabamba to build composting toilets (baños secos). Currently, approximately 70% of the families who live in these communities do not have any form of bathroom, which creates several environmental and health problems. CECAM’s composting toilet design is a sanitary solution that does not require the use of water.

In the research phase of the project, our main goal was to build a nice bathroom, for the lowest possible price, with the resources available locally. On a trip out to the community to discuss the composting toilet concept, CECAM realized that many of the families have numerous resources available to build these bathrooms. CECAM´s primary role throughout construction was to provide oversight and technical support, in addition to building the urine-diverting toilet component of the bathroom.

CECAM is currently planning to hold educational workshops and distribute informational flyers to various families in the community.

What is a Composting Toilet?

Composting toilets do not need water to function and are not connected to the sewage system. They are very effective biologically, good for the environment and health of the families who use them, and save money and energy. The separation of urine is very important to minimize the odors, and is also advantageous in the composting process. After each use of the toilet, a mixture of dirt and ash is poured on top of the feces. This mixture dries the feces, which prevents odors and proliferation of flies and other insects, and also enables the process of making the feces into a usable fertilizer.