March 6, 2010

Let's talk about poo!

On day two in Koh Pdao village, Our morning trek around the village to see first-hand the impact of CRDT was very inspiring. We saw the hen houses (talk about free range—these chickens are all over the village) and we spoke with the woman who cares for the chickens about how much better her income is now that CRDT has taught her new techniques. Next we saw the fish ponds that help the village feed its people. CRDT helped dig the ponds and now the villagers raise fish to eat during the rainy season. We also saw the home gardens that many villagers tend. The highlight, however, was the biodigesters built to supply not only fertilizer, but also methane gas-powered lighting and cooking stoves for the village. The biodigester is a simple contraption. Manure from the farm animals is collected and put in a tank where it ferments and releases methane gas. The gas flows up a tube into the house where it is used for cooking and lighting. The methane gas replaces firewood and kerosene lamps, two expensive and environmentally-insensitive resources. CRDT has also implemented outhouses which connect to the biodigester because, as our guide explained, human feces produce more gas than that of animals. What a nice cycle—use the biodigested gas to cook, eat the food, use the outhouse, have more gas to cook. Total sustainability via poo poo—now there's something to get excited about!

Speaking of poo poo, let me describe the facilities on Koh Pdao. If you are lucky, you'll see a wooden shack in back of the house. Courtesy of CRDT, outhouses have been implemented in many village homes. Inside the tiny building a small tub of flush water and a squat toilet await your business. Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer and leave your fears of bugs and small reptiles behind. No lights are available, so if nature calls after dark—grab a flashlight if you've got it, and good luck. By the way, you might not come across a trash can for days, so a plastic bag for all waste products is also a good idea. The most successful squat experience results in dry pants, dry feet and an empty bladder. To achieve such a feat, I find that getting as much of your pants around your knees as possible is the trick. Trial and mostly error. I have learned many a thing about squat toilets out of pure necessity. In this part of the world, that familiar low abdominal growl requires immediate action. Always know the location and status of the nearest toilet.