Peru: Helping Lobitos feel flush

The town of Lobitos lies on the coast of Peru, and is becoming a popular destination for surfers. But two interrelated problems prevent Lobitos being a great place to live and a bigger draw for tourists: inadequate water supplies and poor sanitation.

Lobitos has no wastewater treatment plant, and the sewage system has collapsed – broken pipes are leaking sewage, contaminating the town’s water supplies and putting the health of its 1,500 residents at risk. And most people frequently run out of water.

To make matters worse, the town is periodically exposed to the full force of the El Niño weather phenomenon, which brings intense rainfall, tropical cyclones, mudslides and flooding to the town.

Story in numbers

61% of residents run out of water more than weekly.
40% of people have a negative opinion of sanitation in Lobitos.
6% of people had heard of dry toilets, but 74% said they would use one.

Transforming toilets

Engineers Without Borders UK and local organisation EcoSwell hit upon an innovative solution to conserve water, improve sanitation and make Lobitos a nicer, healthier place to live in and visit – namely dry toilets.

Our pro-bono engineers devised a feasibility study on the impact these toilets would have on the surrounding environment and on the lives of local people.

Dry toilets, as the name suggests, do not flush using water. Instead, waste is collected in a large plastic container, which slowly produces compost that can be used to fertilise local crops.

The toilets can be installed in public and private buildings, are cheap and simple to build, and don’t smell as bad as you might think – an airflow upwards and away from the user prevents unpleasant odours.

Using dry toilet technology

Attracting tourists, boosting the economy

It’s hoped dry toilets will transform Lobitos, improving residents’ health and water supply and attracting more tourists who will boost the town’s economy.

The need to build and maintain the dry toilet systems will create jobs and generate wealth too.