Residents want earthworm technology toilets

LILIAN Moyo has spent an hour trying to put some semblance of order in the two rooms her family rents in the Baobab section of Beitbridge’s low-density suburb.

BY OWN CORRESPONDENT

Her husband is a banker, while she is a shipping clerk and the two of them earn a decent income.

They live with their two children, both in senior primary school.

Moyo’s family has outgrown the rented accommodation and the inconvenience peaks when relatives visit.

Initially, they rented the whole house, but downgraded to share, save and build their family house.

It’s now complete, standing as a clear testimony of sheer determination and hard work, with three spacious bedrooms, an en-suite in the main bedroom, a lounge and kitchen with a pantry — you name it.

Sadly, the Moyos cannot relocate to the prize of their sacrifice and labour. The area has no water and sewer reticulation system.

Her story is shared by about 5 000 homeowners, who find themselves in a similar predicament.

Others have been told not to build up to roof level, with the local authority fearing a health disaster if the houses are occupied in the absence of water or sewer facilities.

These people now pin their hopes on the arrival of the earthworm toilet technology, introduced by Zimbabwe Earthworm Farms.


“We saw on television and heard in the news that there is a new technology that we can have toilets not necessarily linked to the sewerage lines.

“We want that technology and that will enable us to move to our new home and save on rentals. We pay $200 a month and we can use that to install the new system instead,” Lillian said.

Other residents, who have houses in the same area with her, are in agreement.

“If it’s possible, we need it. It will relieve us from renting and move to our place, we can negotiate terms to have it,” Collen Chimbangu, whose house is close to the Moyos, said.

The Beitbridge Municipality, whose sewer system was designed for a small settlement of 20 000 people, has suddenly found itself grappling with an enormous task to provide sewer services to about 5 000 households in Dulivhadzimo, some that have gone for more than 10 years without.

It has resulted in open defecation by residents, making the town vulnerable to disease outbreaks,.

A quick reminder is the 2008/9 cholera outbreak which wiped close to 4 000 people countrywide, but mostly in Beitbridge.

Bearing in mind such disasters, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has stopped new sewer connections to the existing system until the problem is addressed.

Beitbridge and EMA have partnered Zimbabwe Earthworm Farms in the pilot project unveiled in the town last week.

It costs $18 000 to provide a sewer system which is burst free, recycles flushing water and breeds earthworms for sale at $7 per kilogramme.

“Above all, it saves on the use of water, reducing consumption bills and the recycled water can be used to water large tracts of land,” founder of the technology, Ephrem Whingwiri, told guests at the handover ceremony in Beitbridge.

“Our waste water treatment and recycling powered by earthworms system cleans, detoxifies, disinfects and neutralises waste water from the kitchens, laundry, bath and flush toilets,” he said.

The system was in line with this year’s United Nations Water Day theme Waste Water as Resource.

Beitbridge, plagued by sewer bursts, has adopted the project, but will meet to discuss its implementation.

“We are yet to sit and chart the way forward. For the nine houses, we spent around $15 000 and $20 000 was co-funded with EMA,” acting town clerk Loud Ramakgapola said.

“Training for operation for our staff was done and we will need to engage developers and hear their views on possible implementation,” he said.

Whingwiri believes his technology, which could answer sewer reticulation problems worldwide and reduce environmental impact, is a multi-million business he will share with the town council and EMA.

“I urge local authorities to adopt such an environmentally friendly technology once it has been certified. It will help reducing pressure on existing sewer plants,” EMA board member and guest of honour Felix Moyo said.

“More so, the biodegradable waste will be utilised for earthworm production.”

Beneficiaries of the pilot project, among them councillor Sarudzai Moyo, said at first, the project seemed like a joke.

“But we realise a lot of benefits, we can plant trees that will be watered by recycled water and we can have lawns at our homes. We are saving a great deal on water bills because of recycling,” she said.

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