Tiny Island Nation Embraces Composting Toilets, Fights Major Water Shortages

RERUAustralia/Video screen capture

From its ambitious goal to produce 100% clean energy by 2020 to calling out the World's biggest polluters for their role in creating climate change, the tiny island nation of Tuvalu has already shown impressive environmental leadership—and for good reason.

With a population of just 10,500 and a land mass of 26 square kilometers, most of which is barely a meter above the ocean, Tuvalu faces a very serious, existential threat from climate change and water shortages. Given that the entire Nation has pretty much run out of water before, Tuvalu's citizens have more motivation than most to be very, very careful about how they use their water. A new 30 minute documentary video explores the challenges this isolated nation faces, and explains how simple composting toilets may be one of the solutions.

RERUAustralia/Video screen capture

From rainwater harvesting to extensive efforts to create more water-efficient agriculture, there are already many important initiatives going on in Tuvalu to address the nation's water shortages. But it's not just access to sources of clean water, but the management of waste water that are causing major issues.

While flush toilets and septic systems are increasingly popular modern conveniences, the problem of waste leaking from these systems—and from animal agriculture—is an acute issue when there is nowhere for that waste water to go.

RERUAustralia/Video screen capture

Sanitation Updates reports that the Global Environment Facility supported Pacific Integrated Water Resources Management project (GEF Pacific IWRM) is installing composting toilets on the main island of Funafuti, and these toilets are in high demand among families who are well aware that flushing precious drinking water down the toilet is not the smartest move.

Of course, the added bonus of a water conservation project like this is that it creates more fertile, productive soils that are better able to resist drought. Much like the fertilizer-producing island that can't grow its own vegetables, the lessons from Tuvalu's water crisis should be heeded way beyond this nation's borders.

In a world where energy, resources and water are likely to be increasingly sought after commodities, we could all be a little smarter about what we flush down the toilet.

Tags: Composting Toilets | resilience | Water Conservation | Water Crisis

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