There seems to be an irrational fear among fecophobes that if you don't die instantly from humanure compost, you'll die a slow, miserable death, or you'll surely cause an epidemic of the plague and everyone within 200 miles of you will drop like flies, or you'll become so infested with parasitic worms that your head will look like spaghetti.
These fears exist perhaps because much of the information in print concerning the recycling of humanure is confusing, erroneous, or incomplete. For example, when researching the literature during the preparation of this book, I found it surprising that almost no mention is ever made of the thermophilic composting of humanure as a viable alternative to other forms of on-site sanitation. When "bucket" systems are mentioned, they are also called "cartage" systems and are universally decried as being the least desirable sanitation alternative.
For example, in A Guide to the Development of On-Site
Sanitation by Franceys et al., published by the World Health Organization in 1992, "bucket latrines" are described as "malodorous, creating a fly nuisance, a danger to the health of those who collect or use the nightsoil, and the collection is environmentally and physically undesirable." This sentiment is echoed in Rybczynski's (et al.) World Bank funded work on low-cost sanitation options, where it is stated that "the limitations of the bucket latrine include the frequent collection visits required to empty the small container of [humanure], as well as the difficulty of restricting the passage of flies and odors from the bucket."
I've personally used a sawdust toilet for 26 years and it has never caused odor problems, fly problems, health problems, or environmental problems. Quite the contrary, it has actually enhanced my health, the health of my family, and the health of my environment by producing healthy, organic food in my garden, and by keeping human waste out of the water table. Nevertheless, Franceys et al. go on to say that "[humanure] collection should never be considered as an option for sanitation improvement programmes, and all existing bucket latrines should be replaced as soon as possible."
Obviously Franceys et al. are referring to the practice of collecting humanure in buckets without a cover material (which would surely stink to high heaven and attract flies) and without any intention of composting the humanure. Such buckets of feces and urine are presumably dumped raw into the environment. Naturally, such a practice should be strongly discouraged, if not outlawed.
However, rather than forcing people who use such crude waste disposal methods to switch to other more prohibitively costly waste disposal methods, perhaps it would be better to educate those people about resource recovery, the human nutrient cycle and about composting. It would be more constructive to help them acquire adequate and appropriate cover materials for their toilets, assist them in constructing compost bins, and thereby eliminate waste, pollution, odor, flies and health hazards altogether. I find it inconceivable that intelligent, educated scientists who observe bucket latrines and the odors and flies associated with them do not see that the simple addition of a clean, organic cover material to the system would solve the aforementioned problems, and balance the nitrogen of the humanure with carbon.
Franceys et al. state, however, in their book, that "apart from storage in double pit latrines, the most appropriate treatment for on-site sanitation is composting." I would agree that composting, when done properly, is the most appropriate method of on-site sanitation available to
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