National Geographic : 2017 Aug
114 national geographic • august 2017 HAITI It took Fritznel Xavier’s parents six hours to carry the vomiting teenager to the cholera treatment center in Jérémie. Stabilized with intravenous fluids, Fritznel survived but returned to a village that lacks adequate toilets. Cholera most frequently afflicts the young and the old. In Haiti it sickened tens of thousands in 2016. the money?” He shakes his head, incredulous. Even in rural areas Wilson doesn’t see the point in promoting pit latrines. “More latrines will only lead to more coerced manual cleaning,” he says. Besides being expensive, however, flush toilets and sewers require running water, which many parts of India still don’t have. As the country develops, such amenities may become universal— but that day is surely decades away. In the mean- time millions more children will have died. The question is how best to reduce that number. Technology can help. Waterless, solar- powered toilets that are under development will sterilize the waste they collect, making it safe to use on crops or as charcoal. A cheaper, simpler solution, available now, involves composting latrines that have two pits spaced about a yard apart. After the first pit fills, waste is diverted into the second pit. Long before it fills, the contents of the first pit dry out, pathogens die, and the crum- bly remains—high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—can be safely applied to farm fields.