Sunday was World Toilet Day. For those of us from the west, this sounds like a strange thing to draw attention to. But for us at Thrive, thinking about toilets and the poo that goes into them grabs our attention. Continue reading to find out how poo can actually be used to help the extremely poor.

It is estimated that 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation which is more than 35% of the world’s population. Specifically, 6 in 10 Africans live life without a proper toilet.

As many as 7,500 people die daily due to lack of sanitation and 5,000 of those are children under the age of five. Today, more people die from poor sanitation than from measles, malaria and HIV/AIDS combined. This is because poor sanitation can release a legion of diseases.

The Value of Poo in Africa

For hundreds of years, the Chinese have been using human waste to fertilize their fields, increasing food output. This idea combined with 21st-century science could be the answer to helping the poor.

At our training center in West Africa, we have been using this idea and making the best fertilizer. This fertilizer is created from our students’ waste by using our compost-making toilets.

Studies suggest that the average person consumes approximately 1000 pounds of food or more over the course of a year. Using our compost-making toilets, these consumption rates would allow us to produce 200 pounds of high-quality fertilizer. As a result, this would make growing disease-fighting foods a lot easier.

Use Feces By Creating Special Compost Toilets


The process is fairly simple. There are two different models of rural, low-cost compost toilets. The first method involves separating the solids and the liquids as they are treated differently. The solids are kept in the tank for 6-12 months. After this time period, it turns into valuable “black gold.” The liquid is stored in pails that are placed in the sun for a month. Then the liquid is used as an activator for compost piles.

The second method involves digging a hole that is approximately 4 ft deep. A temporary shelter is then placed over it to create a bathroom. When the hole is 2/3 full, a new hole is dug nearby and that dirt is used to fill the first hole. The shelter continues to be used with each new hole. After the first hole has been filled for 6 months, it can be used as fertilizer. The material can be removed and used in gardens or a tree can be planted directly into the hole.

Poo Could Extend Life

After a decade of creating disease-fighting gardens, we have discovered something. When the soil has 10% organic material it becomes full of life. The best organic growers are always looking for sources of high-quality organic material. I would think poo if treated properly, could easily qualify.

On average, Africans die 1/3 to 1/4 sooner than westerners because of poor diets and water. That reality could motivate them to look for solutions that are practical, like turning their human waste into high-quality fertilizer.

Therefore, poo can be a resource that can be utilized rather than being mishandled, causing disease or death.  

Check out our website to see how low-to-no-cost composting toilets are built. We think the designs are great! In order to get people to use them, we have to show them how it can change their personal lives in a big way.