Did you ever think that tigers could be linked to toilets? Here's how.
Roughly two million people in Liberia don't have adequate sanitation. That's almost half the population. In the capital Monrovia, less than five percent of people have access to a toilet that flushes.
Global NGO Oxfam has decided to get innovate to try and combat this life-threatening problem. They’ve come up with a project that Oxfam's Liberia Country Director Salifu Mahmudu is most proud of.
'We want to give every family one of our toilets, if it works. And so far, it is working,' he says.
The toilets that Oxfam have created replace large septic tanks, which are not viable in tightly packed slum areas, with small above-ground systems. But the key to this master invention: the tiger worm.
Image / Oxfam
Tiger worms, given their name for their distinctive stripes, are brilliant at recycling waste. The worms break down solids into black soil compost, removing the need for sewage systems and septic tanks. Tiger worms are as hungry as real tigers, which is what has made this invention so successful.
'The toilets are easy to maintain and are an ideal sanitation solution where space is limited — like Monrovia’s slums,' Salifu says. 'A small concrete chamber with a filtration system hosts the worms. Liquid waste filters through layers of sand, gravel and charcoal, and solids are digested by the worms.'
So far, Oxfam has installed over 60 toilets in Monrovia. But there are plans to offer over 200 across the country. The equipment is fairly compact, but can be equally difficult to transport.
Oxfam works in 12 of Liberia's 15 counties, and their transport needs are high. Some of the areas in the south are so difficult to access that staff travel a number of days by road and river to reach remote villages.
That's where MAF comes in.
'By air, you could do these trips in just a few hours,' smiles Salifu. 'We used to fly with the UN, but there’s so much demand, NGOs don’t really get on any more. You've got to pull the right strings to get a seat.'
It's clear that MAF's presence in Liberia will be a great help to organisations like Oxfam, who are doing amazing things to help the world's poor.
Tiger-toilets could soon be another item to add to MAF's list of 'creative cargo'!