Tiger worms: the ingenious solution to sanitation in refugee camps. News The Essential Daily Briefing, December 30, 2016.
The tiger worms can turn human waste into useful fertiliser (Photo: Oxfam)
A team of British charity workers have come up with a simple, cheap and downright ingenious solution to the problem of providing safe sanitation to some of the world’s most crowded refugee camps – and it involves hundreds of bucketfuls of worms.
Engineers working for Oxfam have created what they have dubbed the “tiger toilet”: a no-frills latrine which uses composting worms to convert human waste into useful fertiliser.
The invention carries the added benefit of reducing the risk of disease.
The toilets, so named because of the striped tiger worms (Eisenia fetida) upon which they rely, were first trialled by a team working in Liberia in 2013.
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The Tiger Roars: New DIV Grantee will Test the “Tiger Toilet” that uses Worms for Good! | Complete article/source: USAID Development Innovation Ventures
Excerpts – DIV is delighted to announce a new Stage 1 award of over $170,000 to Bear Valley Ventures Ltd to conduct a field trial of the Tiger Toilet in India, Uganda, and Burma. The Tiger Toilet is a latrine system that has the potential to be an affordable, compact, and superior alternative to pit latrines and septic tanks. It harnesses the capabilities of composting worms such as the Tiger Worm (Eisenia fetida), to digest the solids within the system, making it very compact and particularly suitable to high density urban environments.
The project aims to address the global challenge of providing access to adequate sanitation; worldwide, over 4 billion people currently use latrines that can be unpleasant and unhygienic or lack sanitation provisions entirely. Sewered systems will never be a reality for many around the world; therefore an on-site (i.e. a system that does not require piping the waste off-site for treatment) option is needed. Presently the best on-site option is a septic tank, which is often financially out of reach.
Walter Gibson, Director of Bear Valley Ventures, adds that “Vast numbers of people in the world have to put up with inadequate sanitation every day of their lives. It’s imperative that we develop better, more affordable solutions that address their needs and aspirations for a decent toilet. We believe the Tiger Toilet represents one such option. We are very grateful to USAID for this support which allows us to test its potential.”
The Tiger Toilet is linked to a normal pour flush system, so the user experience is therefore the same as using a septic tank or a pour flush latrine. The waste then enters a tank which contains the worms and a drainage layer. The solids are trapped at the top of the system where the worms consume it, and the liquid is filtered through the drainage layer. Extensive laboratory scale trials found that the worms reduce the solids in the system by above 80%, and the effluent quality is higher than that from a septic tank. An initial prototype has been running at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, UK for over a year.