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Urine diversion dehydration toilets after Typhoon Sendong in the Philippines

January 2, 2012

Elmer Sayre of WAND Foundation today sent us the following update from Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan Cities, Philippines where a small team of volunteers quickly set up urine diversion dehydration toilets (UDDTs) as emergency response after a recent typhoon.

As Elmer reported:

“Typhoon Sendong was so severe and fierce, hitting at 2 a.m. when most people were asleep, erasing in the map entire communities, scattering the living in various evacuation centers and  open spaces. When the water system of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities was damaged and most flush toilets in the affected areas were wiped-out, the ecosan* solution is left as one of the most viable options. I asked support from friends and classmates and social network acquaintances and built and deployed portable ecosan toilets focusing mainly on the evacuation centers housing 7,000-12,000 people.”

The blue area is the river running through Cagayan de Oro. The green areas are the totally devastated communities, with water up to the 2nd floor of houses at 2 am while most are sleeping. The city could not account for all the dead and missing especially that most of those living in or near the river banks are informal settlers. Isla de Oro as shown here is full of these shanty houses. Now it is tragically devoid of anything.

“When we started on the 21st December, 3 days after the typhoon, the stench of human feces in the evacuation centers were too much and fecal matter is everywhere. Now we have contained it and we are racing against time to build some more units especially for people living scattered around open spaces without sanitation facilities. Our team do constant monitoring and collection of human waste and store it in our facilities in Libertad to be processed later on as fertilizer for coconut trees.”

Constructing urine diversion dehydration toilets on the run-down to New Year at Tent City, Iligan, Philippines

Constructing urine diversion dehydration toilets on the run-down to New Year at Tent City, Iligan, Philippines

“We are doing well and in fact, today, a Swiss humanitarian aid agency asked us to supply them with 35 portable ecosan toilets for evacuation centers in Iligan city.”

For more information on Elmer’s work, please see these two documentations “Philippines Flashflood Documentation” (PDF; 0.9 MB) and “Briefer Ecosan Wand” (PDF; 0.4 MB), feel free to directly contact WAND Foundation on their website or take part in the discussions around this emergency response via the open SuSanA forum.

*ecosan => here:  Urine diversion dehydration toilets (UDDTs)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2012 7:19 pm

    We are racing against time to provide portable ecosan toilets for affected families in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. The situation is dire and cases of typhoid fever and dysentery is now being reported. We badly need your help. One toilet including 2 weeks supply of toilet paper, soap, etc cost about 186 USD. Please contact me at

  2. January 2, 2012 8:52 pm

    More and more we’re seeing the value of collecting containers as part of emergency preparation. Perhaps Iligan and Cagayan de Oro can meet some of their considerable needs with household toilets. Please see th Christchurch Twin No-Mix Emergency Toilet, which has been adopted by the earthquake-threatened city of Portland, Oregon.

  3. January 2, 2012 9:09 pm

    Excellent work, Elmer! It is really great following from afar what your WAND Foundation and the SUSAN Center are doing in the emergency camps in CDO and Iligan.

    It is a pity, however, that most relief agencies active in the area do not have sanitation on their agenda yet. So much the better that there are 2 committed local sustainable sanitation organizations active to tackle this problem.

    As an alternative route to donate further toilets for the camps please see here:

    Best regards and wish you all a successful and more sustainable year ahead


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