Making sanitation easier in the South Pacific
Updated: Jun 4
For most people, life in the South Pacific calls up thoughts of stunning tropical vistas, a relaxed pace and exotic flora and fauna on remote islands. All of which is accurate.
Yet those same remote islands pose an infrastructure challenge to those who live there. In particular, building sanitation facilities on a sensitive atoll can be problematic. Plumbing is very difficult to install on atolls (islands consisting of hardened coral), it's difficult and expensive to transport materials to an island, and there are educational and cultural barriers to using different sanitation methods.
Enter Field Ready's latrine slab and riser; a 1.2m x 1.2m moulded plastic toilet that can be made locally, transported quickly and installed easily. Ten of the latrines were installed in eight Fijian communities in late May as part of a new partnership between Field Ready, the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services and UNICEF. The partnership will produce 1,000 of the latrines and install them to improve sanitation in Fiji's more remote areas.
The Ministry of Health hosted celebrations of the installations in each of the eight communities, which included sevusevu ceremonies and dancing.
"It's really a game-changer," said Luke Johnston, Field Ready Pacific innovation lead. "We have a really big sanitation problem here in the South Pacific; there's very little to no infrastructure in rural areas. In the past, latrines have been built with concrete, which is expensive and difficult to transport. And then it's difficult to move, or to build a new one."
But Field Ready' moulded latrine "is easy and affordable to transport, it can be installed by one adult in about an hour, it's easy to move when a new site is needed to and they're expected to cost about $95 each," Johnston said. "This can make all the difference to communities that have battled sanitation problems and the resulting diseases such as cholera and typhoid."
Built by Fijian engineering firm Nagan in Suva, the latrines will be delivered 50 to 100 units at a time as they are produced over the next four months.
"We hope that having a locally made product like this that's attractive and cost-effective will make a big difference for communities' health in the long term," Johnston said.