How to build a sustainable toilet.

Part one The Holding Tank

The Kumasi Ventilated Improved Pit latrine (KVIP) and is the epitome of sustainability. No water, and a lifespan of at least 20 years without any maintenance except cleaning of the cubicles. This is the type of sustainable toilet we have built in Tafi Atome, Alavanyo Dzogbedze and now are building in Alavanyo Agome.
The most important part is the Pit or the holding tanks. All of the toilet deposits go into these tanks.
They are designed to be very well ventilated so no, or little, smell goes back up into the cubicles. Any flies that follow their noses onto the poo are cunningly trapped in the tank until they die. If the flys could escape they would carry germs on their legs and bodies. They can’t excape so this stops them spreading diseases.
Each tank is designed to hold about ten years, YES TEN YEARS, worth of deposits! Then the second toilet in each cubicle is opened up to start filling the neighbouring holding tank. After about 20 years the contents of the first tank have thoroughly composted killing any pathogens. This holding tank is then emptied and the process starts again. The tanks need to be very strong to survive these many years of use.

Cross section of KVIP showing how it traps flys


Sparkling plaque thanking all involved in the library project.

A huge thank you to the people of the Alavanyo community who under the leadership of Clemence Kitsi renovated the community library.

They made new tables with individual carrels and more shelving. They replaced the termite eaten wooden louvered windows with glass windows. This has made the whole room light and airey. They put in a termite proof plastic ceiling which not only insulates the room from the heat but allows people to work when the rains hammer on the corrugated metal roof. To help with making it even more comfortable they installed ceiling fans and better lighting. We bought new chairs and painted the whole room.

Building the bookshelves.
Desks and bookshelves all ready.
Delivering the chairs.

A library to be enjoyed.

To recognise all of the people and organisations involved a plaque has been put inside and outside the building. The major donors are mentioned but sadly we couldn’t fit in the names of everyone who has individually donated to Community Action Ghana. A big thank you to everyone involved.

A library is not a lot of use without books so a final thank you from us and the people of Alavanyo to Book Aid international who provided a powerful injection of books.

Inside above the new shelving and books.
Outside in the corridor.
Windows, shelving, paintwork, new books and ceiling visible here.

Major donors
Viktoria Luis Gymnasium, Hameln, Germany
Q’antati Weltladen, Hameln, Germany
Botley Windscreens, Oxford, UK
Book Aid international, London, UK

Students and teachers enjoying the books.


Imagine this is how you got water.

This morning I expect you got up. Went to your indoor bathroom, did your number ones and twos. Flushed the toilet had a wash, shower or bath. All without leaving the comfort and warmth of your own house.

It’s not like this for many people in the Volta region of Ghana. The pictures below show what the Gbedema Kofe community near Ho have to do to get the water they need to wash, prepare their food and in some cases drink. This community has sent us a request for help to drill a borehole, and build a reservoir tank with a couple of taps so they do not have to collect the water from this stream.
It was International Womens Day this month and most of the women in this community spent it collecting water from this source. They had to walk away from the village and carry the heavy containers back home. This is a cause of anxiety as this is where they might meet snakes and other predators. They are not asking for the world just a safe source of water.

How much? The estimates are that if Community Action Ghana, with your donations, put in £4,000 the village contribute £2,000 in labour and materials, they can have this in a matter of weeks.

Please can you or an organisation you know help. We will willingly give talks to individuals or groups anywhere in the world (using video links). Please help us fulfill this simple request.

Many times each day I collect water.
I bring my son or daughter to help.
That blue bucket of water weighs 5kg. It is too much but what can I do?
This is what your donations could provide.