A collapsed sewage system and inadequate wastewater treatment facilities were putting the health of the 1,500 residents of Lobitos at risk. The town’s water supplies were becoming contaminated and people were frequently running out of water.

The town is periodically exposed to the El Niño weather phenomenon, which brings intense rainfall, tropical cyclones, mudslides and flooding to the town. This was exacerbating the issues.

Transformational toilets

Engineers Without Borders UK and local organisation EcoSwell came up with an innovative solution to conserve water, improve sanitation and make Lobitos a nicer, healthier place to live and visit: dry toilets.

Our engineers designed a feasibility study to determine the impact these toilets would have on the surrounding environment and on the lives of local people. Dry toilets, as the name suggests, don’t flush using water. Instead, waste is collected in a large plastic container, which slowly produces compost that can be used to fertilise local crops.

An outside toilet.

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.

Attracting tourists and boosting the economy

We hope 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.