In 2009, as GSAP began to structure itself towards more sustainable programs, Samuel Gyabah suggested the need for a new type of toilet in Ghana. In the past, well intentioned efforts have been applied to fix the problem using pit latrines and ‘improved’ pit latrines but these toilets have been smelly, fly ridden, environmentally intrusive and a disgusting experience for users who have no choice in the daily necessity of having to relieve themselves. They are often public and far to travel for most people in a community, and don’t solve either the accessibility or health problem that the lack of sanitation facilities creates.
Stephen Mecca has been working on the problem for the past 6 years, with the help of GSAP’s research partners at the S-Lab at Providence College and a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He created the GSAP Microflush Toilet: an off-grid, sustainable, environmentally friendly, low cost, odor- and fly-free toilet that reuses the small amount (1 cup) of greywater from a previous user’s hand wash to isolate waste and flush the toilet. Microflush toilets are often owned and built near 2-3 households, so that multiple households can share a toilet, bringing the cost down even more.
In the Microflush toilet, a user’s flush of waste directly falls into a filter-digester where the solids and liquids are rapidly separated. The solids are composted in an aerobic process enhanced by simple earthworms (e-fetida) found everywhere in the world. The small filtrate volume is processed naturally in a soak hole – a micro version of a rural leaching field in the US. There is no dislodging of sludge or transportation to a waste processing plant. Every 2 years, the rear cover is removed and an organically rich compost is harvested for use in agriculture.
GSAP also created a unique and financially sustainable distribution system to create small businesses and jobs around the toilets. Read more about the MAKER-LENDER microfranchise model.
GSAP Microflush toilets are currently in 15 countries and counting. A map of all lenders will be available soon.
For nonprofits or for individuals interested in becoming toilet MAKERs or LENDERs, contact Stephen Mecca.
Otherwise, read our published papers on the application of GSAP Microflush toilets and the microfranchise model as a sanitation distribution system.
The information about the toilet in this video is a little outdated, but view this video for more information about the problem we’re tackling!