Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Top 20 Countdown: #20 Built Latrines & Stoves

Counting down to #GivingTuesday on December 2nd, we’re highlighting the CDCA’s accomplishments over our 20 years in Nicaragua. Follow our countdown in this blog, on Facebook and Twitter. Help us keep doing more by giving $20. Our goal is to raise $20,000.

Before we even moved to Nicaragua, Mike and two others came to evaluate potential projects here and in El Salvador.  One of the two “others” was a dear friend of ours, Bob Hanafin, a self-taught appropriate technology whiz.  He taught us much about appropriate tech and with the foundation he laid, we learned much.

Bob designed a solar composting latrine and we built several, including a demonstration model at our Center.  A couple of the latrines have been used consistently and still work great!  The theory is that the solid waste goes through several screens of varying sizes, the black chimney heats the waste and circulates the air so that after several months, the solid waste is safe to use as compost.  One of the really nice aspects is that when the sun bakes the waste there is no odor!
Bob building efficient stove at feeding center
Bob also designed an efficient wood-burning cook stove.  He and Sarah worked hard on the plans and after Bob left, Sarah worked in a community teaching, and over-seeing the small community building their own stoves. 

These stoves use much less wood, which means less deforestation, and are well ventilated so there is less heat and less smoke, which saves lungs.

Bob taught us to use what is readily available, not what we were used to using.  He taught us how to measure and level without fancy equipment. 

Appropriate technology has to fit into the context of people’s lives.  A solar stove does not work when the sun moves quickly across the sky and where yards are small and have trees.  We learned to listen and encourage thinking outside the box while not imposing our “well-intentioned” ideas on those who would have to live day in and day out with our ideas.

Future Projects: 
•    We are working with Christian Children’s Fund Canada to bring low tech irrigation to family gardens to improve nutrition in rural areas… awaiting dispersal of approved funding.
•    We want to move the CDCA off the grid because electricity is so expensive, including at the sesame plant (which the electric company will not connect to the grid)… awaiting funding.
•    We want to help our clinic’s patients with asthma by putting better stoves in their homes… awaiting funding
•    We want to build another demonstration of an aquaponics system, teach communities how to create one of their own and maintain it to improve nutrition… awaiting funding.  

20 years/20 dollars: help us keep doing more by giving $20.

-    Kathleen