While the City of Cape Town services several hundred “bucket toilets” in informal settlements, there are more than 70 000 households that have little or no sanitation. Fortunately, an affordable, green solution to the “bucket system” that is also a viable alternative to flush plumbing, could soon be available…
The Lovely Loo, a self-contained, waterless, private, self-composting toilet was designed by Francois De Flamingh, the owner of United Development. In 2014, The Lovely Loo was selected as a finalist in the Better Living Challenge, a competition that aims to surface affordable green solutions to low-income housing problems, and to help support those solutions getting to market. The Better Living Challenge is project-managed by the Cape Craft + Design Institute (CCDI), on behalf of 110% Green, an initiative of the Western Cape Government.
On realising the enormous potential of The Lovely Loo, the Better Living Challenge channeled exhibition funding towards developing a full-scale, working prototype that was displayed at the Better Living Challenge Showcase in October 2014. Thereafter, it was decided that The Lovely Loo would be tested in a real-life situation to determine its strengths and iron out any design weaknesses. The Lovely Loo working prototype was donated to a much-in-need crèche where an inadequate “bucket system” was in place.
“The Lovely Loo” in Action
The Better Living Challenge worked closely with De Flamingh and Ansi Gilfillin of Think: Inn, a community-oriented organisation that implements and showcases projects that aim to better people and the planet. Together these partners installed The Lovely Loo at the Imizamo Yethu Educare Centre. The Centre is a registered NPO crèche located in Site B, Khayelitsha. It is managed by Nomzamo Nkolisa, a well-respected woman in her community. Nkolisa cares for 54 young children daily and runs the crèche from her shack.
There is no plumbing infrastructure in this section of Khayelitsha and all residents in the vicinity make use of the Bucket System. For the Imizamo Yethu Educare Centre, The Lovely Loo is an absolute blessing – 54 children using the crèche’s sole bucket toilet daily, is just not feasible.
The Lovely Loo arrived at its new home at Imizamo Yethu in November 2014. Nkolisa waited until after the December holidays to start testing the new toilet because she insisted that: “this gift is not for me, but for the children!”
The Lovely Loo has been warmly welcomed, not just by the crèche itself, but also by its extended community. In this part of Khayelitsha, The Lovely Loo addresses the current need for a low-maintenance, odorless sanitation system. What’s more, it is low-cost, self-contained and waterless. It doesn’t require flushing and even turns waste into a useful by-product – compost.
The Better Living Challenge and Think: Inn are currently conducting a feasibility assessment of the toilet in situ. During this time, the Better Living Challenge’s impact study will determine if this solution is indeed an improvement on the current conditions, and if there are ways to make it affordable and available to other interested community members.