Showing posts with label SATO Toilet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SATO Toilet. Show all posts

09 October 2020

Saving Old Toilets in Schools- An Example from Bhutan

The most satisfying among the projects carried out by Bhutan Toilet Org is the School Toilet Upgradation project. We have been able to train hundreds of school staff to help us transform hundreds of toilet overnight. The combination of smart process and amazing SATO technology made the project one of the most cost-efficient projects.  

We have crossed over a thousand toilets in just over eight Dzongkhags making a saving of at least Nu. 13 million for the government. Of course, these many toilets wouldn't have been upgraded if it wasn't for the project that offered get rid of the old toilets and upgrade them to the next generation toilets using SATO pan. 


Within the project, another surprise emerged when we learned that some of the really old toilet structures that were waiting to be dismantled got a second lease of life. While working on some 16 units of pit latrine in a school in Thimphu as part of the pilot project, I noticed an old but strong 10 -unit toilet structure that was closed and left unused. Upon inquiry, the school told me that the toilet was closed for decades and they were only waiting for a budget to demolish it and construct a new one. 
Honestly, school toilets are hard to come by. There are a hundred other important things to build in school that toilets are the last things to get attention. That's why you will see that it takes tenures of several principals to finally get a new toilet constructed in a school. And when you hear someone say that they are waiting for a budget to build or renovate a toilet, you know they are being a buffalo waiting for the yak. 
I requested the principal to open the old toilet, which was shut so brutally with hundreds of random nails. Once open, I could see it was a pit latrine with cemented floor and the only problem seems to be the pit which was filled with thousand random things. If we could empty the pit then we could install SATO pan over the pit. The school took the challenge to empty the pit by filling it with water and sucking it out using sewer suction truck. When I visited the next time the pit was emptied and ready to be upgraded. It took was a few hours to install SATO pan on each of the ten units and within the next few days, it was ready to serve its second term. 

Calculating the cost, we found out that we managed to save the old toilet in less than Nu.50,000. If the school had to rebuild a 10-units toilet it could cost at least Nu.1.5 million. Therefore, to be able to save Nu. 1.4 million within a few hours was a significant achievement, but the priceless part of this was reviving and adding 10 more units of toilets for the students to use in a few days. 

The same magic was done to a toilet each in Samtse and Saprang, two blocks each in Chhukha, Zhemgang, Haa, Wangdue and Punakha. To Punakha and Sarpang, Education Secretary, Karma Tshering, then the DG, specifically ask us to go there and save the old toilets that he had instructed the school not to touch until we came to upgrade.  

Since then, we have requested the Education Ministry to disallow school to demolish any old school toilets and it's been circulated thus across the country. 

This story of saving old school toilets inexpensively has been shared on various platforms to encourage similar initiatives across the globe. This could not just save millions in the cost of constructions, but also ensure an instant solution to toilet shortage issues and also the quality of toilets in schools.


26 December 2019

How Better School Toilets Can Influence Better Public Toilet

Condition of Public toilets of a country is a perfect reflection of its school toilets. We cannot pretend to be surprised to see a scandalising public toilet when we haven’t paid attention to school toilets, where the foundation is built. As is school toilet, so shall public toilet be.

Considering the conditions of school toilets during our school days in the ’90s, we have come a long way but in comparison to the outside world, we are nowhere. There are some school toilet that could infect you just by looking at their pictures, and you can imagine children using them. I personally conclude that the cleanliness of school toilet depends absolutely on the cleanliness of the school leadership.

It’s not the lack of facility but the misuse and negligence of the facility, which can be attributed to a general lack of social ethics in the culture of the school

"The Culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.”-Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker
At home, everyone knows they need to flush after using the toilet, that shoving a solid thing down the toilet would cause blockage, and that when the toilet door is falling apart one needs to nail it back or tell someone to do it, but what happens to that sense of responsibility when a child comes to school? Where does it disappear? What makes them so carefree and mindless? 

Signing MoU with Ministry of Education

This can be best explained as herd mentality, wherein we see that even a well-behaved child tends to be as mindless as the rest of the students. Basically, it’s a crowd of good youths not being good enough collectively. It usually happens among animals and turns out we are animals too. But the good news is that we can influence that herd mentality and turn things around just by influencing a small part of of the group. Five per cent to be precise. And that’s perhaps what we call the building of culture. We focus on the golden five per cent. We have hope. 

However, we need better toilets to make the new beginning but looking at the condition of toilets in schools across the country, we seemed to need a lot of time and lot of money just to set the stage for a new beginning. We can neither afford that much time nor have that amount of money. Therefore, we needed a smart solution to upgrade the old toilets, in record time and at the lowest cost possible. On top of that, the toilet must be resilient enough to withstand the misuse and survive to see the rise of new toilet culture. 

That’s when SATO technology came into the picture. It was the silver bullet we found. Bhutan Toilet Org partnered with UNICEF Bhutan and Ministry of Education to upgrade all old school toilet by 2020 end. From the data available from five Dzongkhag’s we have completed, we are looking at close to 3000 units of toilets at Nu.9 million. This would have cost government over Nu. 240 million if done in a conventional way. 

By the end of 2020, we are expecting to get rid of all pit latrines and aqua privy toilets from the school and have equity in terms of toilet facility across all schools. That’s when we shall see the beginning of a complete shift in the herd mentality. If this goes according to the plan, then in the next five to ten years, public toilets across the country will be in perfect conditions even without caretakers. 

Once school toilet is upgraded, the first great step schools can take toward building good toilet culture in school is by letting teacher share toilet with the students. 

SATO technology is donated to Bhutan Toilet Org by Lixil Japan through Junior Chamber International (JCI).