On March 14, 2016, I traveled to rural Samar, Philippines with Rotary 6420 Past District Governor Bob Newlon from Oregon, Illinois. We went to one remote barangay (village) to try his newest invention, “The BOB Toilet”, a biodegradable, zero waste toilet invention that doesn’t use water. Yes, believe it or not it does not use water. It uses rice hulls and banana leaves to help decompose human waste and turn it into fertilizer. The urine is diverted that significantly reduces the smell and could also be used as organic fertilizer. The slanted roof of the toilet collects rain water so school children and adults could wash their hands and promote hygiene and sanitation.
Barangay (village) Salvacion sits on top of the hill overlooking Giporlos Bay in the southeastern tip of the island. In 2014, it was one of the first areas hit by super-typhoon Haiyan, the strongest typhoon in recorded history to hit landfall. Evelyn Castillo, the Bayanihan Foundation, chose this remote area to be the recipient of the first BOB toilet trial. The village also does not have a lot of access to clean water and the BOB toilet will be the first public use toilet for the school children and the families that live near the school.
The village captain and the community leaders were very receptive to try the BOB toilet, the latrine model that does not use water. The community leaders gathered around Bob and listened to him intently. Bob explained how to build and how to use the unique toilet system that he invented. I think that this toilet model would be beneficial to villages like Salvacion that also do not have access to clean water. The BOB Toilet could also move towards zero open defecation and promote hygiene and sanitation.
In the next few weeks, Evelyn Castillo of the Bayanihan Foundation will report back on how the school children and community members are using the BOB Toilet and if the first interest and warm reception continues as they use their new BOB latrine, a toilet without water.