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Incremental improvements -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Incremental improvements

Habitat Kyrgyzstan utilizes a simple, earth-friendly solution for sanitation needs.

After the collapse of Soviet communism, Kyrgyzstan’s government cut a variety of social benefits, leaving families with fewer resources to pay for housing. Access to basic services such as water and sewage is limited in the country, especially for impoverished people living in rural areas. It is estimated that less than 20 percent of rural households have access to running water in their homes.

Seeking relief from rural poverty, many families have moved to informal settlements on the fringes of Bishkek, the capital, and other large cities, where they lack secure tenure and decent housing. Some settlements are built in areas where severe flooding can occur.

In response to this need, Habitat for Humanity International, in partnership with a local nongovernmental organization and Women in Europe for a Common Future, has developed an ecologically friendly toilet. This is an innovative, low-cost solution that provides clean, sanitary toilet conditions and also prevents the pollution of soil and water with waste products. The toilet converts waste into safe compost, which can be used as fertilizer. Currently, it is implemented in three rural Kyrgyz communities.

The design of the eco-toilet is simple and can be constructed quickly by volunteers using local materials. Families are able to pay back its cost within one calendar year, their payments entering a revolving fund so that more toilets can be built for others in the community.

Gulmira, who lived with her two sons, Adil and Aziz, in a small two-room house with a total living space of 30 square meters (or a little more than 320 square feet) and no toilet facilities, is one of those who have benefited from the Habitat program. With a Habitat loan, she has repaired their home’s leaking roof, installed windows and plaster walls, and created a new inside toilet.

“I struggled a lot in my life and now see hope ahead,” she says. “Thanks to Habitat, my children and I can look forward to a brighter future.”

—Katerina Bezgachina