blueEnergy works to create a more equitable, sustainable world


bE hosts ¨Exchange Forum of Technologies and Methodologies: Solar Latrines¨

By Angela Cacciola - When you make a commitment to work in a geographically isolated, former war-zone, where heat, humidity, salinity and hurricanes wreck havoc on obtaining and maintaining resources, logistics are quite complicated.As these problems compound with various social issues, including low-level economic activity, inadequate formal education levels, parallel governments, and multi-ethnic and multi-lingual groups, a holistic approach to the development of marginalized societies becomes required.

As blueEnergy Nicaragua Country Director Guillaume Craig states, Bluefields “is not the ideal place to re-invent the wheel.”Instead, it’s the place to learn how the wheel was made, find the sturdiest, cheapest, most available tools to build a modified wheel, and then find locals who can carry out the technical work.Accordingly, while blueEnergy invests in research and development, a key strategy in its overall plan includes catalyzing national networks and “bringing them together to work on the common goal of community strengthening through… interchanges.” Collaborating technologies and strategies with partners and beneficiaries is vital to blueEnergy’s organizational success.

Angel Rivas explains double pit, waterseal,
composting latrines to conference attendees.
In the first week of December, blueEnergy organized and hosted the Exchange Forum of Technologies and Methodologies: Solar Latrines.The two-day conference brought together a variety of local development partners, including FADCANIC and FUNCOS (NGOs), INATEC (technical school), and BICU (university), along with a representative from the Bluefield’s mayor’s office. Special guest, Angel Rivas, came from El Porvenir, an NGO based in the United States that works on the Pacific side of Nicaragua.

Over the past 20 years, El Porvenir has completed 740 projects in water, sanitation, reforestation and education.It currently provides 105,000 people with drinking water, and has planted 530,425 trees and built more than 888 improved stoves. In 2009 alone, El Porvenir helped villagers build 584 latrines, 9 washing stations, 26 wells, 2 gravity flow systems, and 151 low-fuel stoves.

During the morning of the first day, Mr. Rivas presented El Porvenir’s style of double pit, water seal composting latrines. These latrines have been well received by their beneficiaries and many of the first latrines installed are still in use today. Mr. Rivas noted the pros and cons of each latrine design, along with their technical standards, material designs, and costs. He also addressed the equally important social concerns of implementing the projects with regards to monetary contributions, labor, and community involvement.
FUNCOS liason discusses the composting process used by the farm.

On the second day, conference attendees visited FUNCOS, which provided technical information on water, sanitation and improved cook stoves. Attendees also visited blueEnergy solar latrines, composting toilets, bio-arena water filters, and Baptist wells. The event culminated in presentations by local partners on additional cook stove technologies and a large group discussion on the potential for implementation on the Atlantic coast for the various technologies presented.

From this knowledge-exchange workshop, Angel Rivas says he is “most interested in the solar latrine,” which he thinks “could be a viable technology for use in the rural mountain areas where El Porvenir works.”blueEnergy will be using the information learned during the conference to identify the best model for future community development projects.Overall, as blueEnergy Nicaragua Country Director Guillaume Craig notes, the gathering was a “very productive and enriching experience,” and yet another progressive step in blueEnergy’s continuous work “for a more equitable, sustainable world.”

L-R, Vladimir (bE), Angel Rivas (El Porvenir), Thibaut Demaegdt (bE), Guillaume Craig (bE) and Jorge Ramos (bE)

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