90 days to go to Cape Town’s Day Zero: Tips to handling body waste

9 Feb 2018

“If you can urinate (pee) in your (private) garden onto soil it will be absorbed and not present health problems providing the volumes aren’t too high.  Spread it around so that it doesn’t get concentrated and smell… In contrast, faeces (poo) present a health hazard as it contains disease-carrying bacteria and microbes.”

PBM

It’s 90 days to go before Cape Town hits #Day Zero, a day when water taps are set to run dry in South Africa’s second largest city with a population of four million.
If and when Day Zero comes, Cape Town suburbs will have no water to even flush toilets and will have to rely on alternatives. Some of the alternatives might include handling urine and or faeces differently to the convention.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has considered this question and provided an answer in one of its Wednesday Water File. It carved the matter as follows:

What is more dangerous: urine or faeces?

Urine (pee) is essentially sterile which means it is free of bacteria.  If you can urinate (pee) in your (private) garden onto soil it will be absorbed and not present health problems providing the volumes aren’t too high.  Spread it around so that it doesn’t get concentrated and smell.

In contrast, faeces (poo) present a health hazard as it contains disease-carrying bacteria and microbes.  It is critical that faeces are dealt with safely and do not come into contact with people or animals such as dogs.  Open defecation (pooing in the veld or on farms) is a real hazard and globally there are many initiatives trying to eradicate this practice to ensure both dignity and health.

Our waterborne sanitation system has been designed to safely remove poo and pee and ensure we don’t come into contact with it.  Good sanitation, combined with hand-washing, dramatically reduces the risk of disease.  In the ‘New Normal’ – a drier future for Cape Town – we need to relook at the best methods to safely provide sanitation while using less water. This challenge is recognised around the world.

info@probonomatters.co.za

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