MobiSan Unit - Pook se Bos

Submitted by ConsciousBabe on Tue, 2012-03-20 11:20

Two years ago, the Dutch government donated a unique toilet unit to the small community of Pook se Bos. We go to check it out...

After following a technology breadcrumb trail, (getting lost along the way) we found ourselves in the middle of a baking hot Athlone. My contact was nowhere to be seen, and I foolishly had not jotted down his number. After several seconds of unsuccessful phone web searches, I jumped from the car and strode up to one of the locals sitting outside their rickety home, surpassing an aggravated dog as I did so.

'Hi there. Can you please tell me where the toilets are? The blues ones?,' I gestured.

Eventually I was led down a dusty lane, ducking under fresh washing as I watched the many stray hounds out of the corner of my eye. Smoke was rising from metal drums as women cooked, and the houses looked an assortment of tin slates, broken windows panes and mismatching doors.
But then I saw it: from behind a fence, aeration tunnels and solar panels rose above what I recognised as the one and only MobiSan unit!

Could this be the answer to our sanitation issue?Could this be the answer to our sanitation issue?

I had discovered the technology online, reading that the government had worked with internationals to install this pilot project, an alternative to the 'bucket system' the community used to have before.

Installed in collaboration with Western Cape's Water Services Department the unit is made up primarily of a shipping container, the rest of the parts shipped over inside of it.

MobiSan works on the principle of dry sanitation and urine diversion, using aeration and manual turning. A self-contained system, it uses no electricity or water, the idea being that the dehydrated faecal matter can eventually be reused as compost.

Solar powered streetlamps light the toilets up at night.

Aeration encourages the drying process & gets rid of bad smellsAeration encourages the drying process & gets rid of bad smells

'Each shift I turn it 50 times clockwise, 50 times anti-clockwise and then 50 times clockwise again,' explains Willie Fortuin, who has been the maintenence man on this project since day one. He shows us the manual wind-up machinery, explaining how he adds wood chips to the faecal mix to help the drying process.

Willie also shows us how a simple piece of plastic placed strategically in the toilet bowl ensures the urine (of the female loos) is channelled into its own tank, which is then collected when full. The faecal mix however is shifted into a second storage section of the unit once it is full to continue dehydrating. Unfortunately Willie has not yet been able to achieve a successfully dry batch, will continue to strive for this.

Willie is passionate about making this project work in his communityWillie is passionate about making this project work in his community