With the help of a Permafund grant, Kajulu Hills Eco Village in Kenya has trained a number of residents of the Kakuma refugee camp in permaculture skills.Many people are born and grow up in this vast camp that’s been operating for 30 years and has an estimated 16,500 family compounds, each with an average of 20 people.

One of the trainees, Marcelin Munga, is a member of the Farming & Health Education organisation (FHE) which has successfully applied for a Permafund grant to run a 4-day Treebog construction workshop for camp residents.

The Treebog’s innovative compost toilet design encloses the area below an elevated platform with two layers of wire mesh. Straw is stuffed between the two protective mesh layers. This acts as a visual screen for the first year of the Treebog’s use plus allows air flow, soaks up excess urine and stops odours.

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Carbon rich organic matter is sprinkled on the above-ground pile after each use. The resultant nutrient seepage fertilises food trees planted intensively around the Treebog, e.g. bananas and papayas that fruit two years after construction.  A rainwater tank collects run off from the roof for a hand washing station next to the Treebog.  

A range of food & timber producing plants are being propagated by FHE to maintain and increase the vegetation around the Treebog.in their compound,

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Jay Abrahams of Biologic Design UK, who designed, created and developed the Treebog, hopes that the skills and knowledge required to build one can spread throughout the Kakuma camp and beyond. 

He says “The Treebog is a very good example of permaculture design in action. It shows how by placing the components in mutually beneficial locations the ‘problem’ of the toilet ‘wastes’ becomes the source of the solution: a regenerative, resource-creating, tree-growing, sanitation system.

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The Treebog is a simple, Regenerative Sanitation or ‘W.A.S.H.’ System. It provides sanitary compost toilet facilities, where the human waste and handwash water are considered to be a resource to be used – not a problem to be disposed of!”

“The Treebog is not a long drop toilet” he explains, “as there is no pit required underneath. The Treebog is an aerobic compost pile thatsimply sits on the soil surface underneath the platform. The compost pile is surrounded by the enclosed base as well as the trees that are planted around the structure, so the liquids soak into the soil underneath the Treebog and into the root zone. As there is no pit underneath, this helps to protect groundwater from pollution.”

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It’s estimated there are around 1,500 Treebogs in use in the UK. Other projects have introduced the technology elsewhere in Africa and in Asia.

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Support for projects like this by the Permafund grant program is made possible because of the generous donations received from individuals, families, permaculture groups, businesses and community fund raisers.

Over the past 10 years Permafund grants have benefited 58 environmental, community-building and permaculture education projects in Australia and 15 other countries around the world.

Donations and recurring contributions to Permafund can be made here through the ‘Give’ portal on the Permaculture Australia website. Donations of $2.00 or more are tax deductible in Australia.  All donations and contributions are warmly welcomed.

For more information please contact permafund@permacultureaustralia.org.au

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