New Compost Latrines at Shipibo School in Puerto Firmeza

These beautiful compost latrines have just been completed at the school in the Shipibo community of Puerto Firmeza. Alianza Arkana has been working with this school for two years to help develop a model of genuine intercultural education at the school, which works in practice as well as in theory. This model can then provide the template for replication in other indigenous communities.

As the Director of the school, visionary Shipibo educator, Professor Luis Márquez is fond of saying, there is a great deal of discourse spoken about intercultural education but little really put into practice. Together, we aim to change this.

We aim to work with this school using the best environmental, permaculture and cultural practices available to us. The latest example of this is the construction of these three composting latrines to replace the previous ugly and unhygienic school toilets, where human waste just ran off into the ground. The latrines will increase hygienic conditions at the school, as well as providing fertilizer for the school’s permaculture program.

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The three latrines are double vaulted. Once one vault is full of humanure (or human manure) with the addition of sawdust, leaf rot, or other organic cover materials, that side of the latrine is closed and you simply open the adjacent vault. The humanure is then left to decompose for a year, taken out through the doors as shown in the photo, left for a further time to compost until it is ready to be used as rich fertilizer for reforestation plots. This cycle is then constantly repeated.

On the first day of school in the new academic cycle this year, our community solutions director, Brian Best, visited the school and taught all the students proper latrine etiquette using a range of dynamic activities including his now increasingly well-known latrine song, sung in a combination of Shipibo and Spanish. The song is a hit with the schoolchildren.

POITI KINI BEWA/ Latrine song
¡POITI KINI! ¡POITI KINI! ¡AY HAGO MI POI! (sonido de pedo)/Latrine, latrine, that’s where i go poo! (sound of passing gas)

PARA QUE NO APESTA LO TAPO CON ASERRÍN! (chi, chi, sonido de poner aserrín)/So it doesn’t stink, i cover it with sawdust! (chi, chi, sound of adding sawdust)

¡POITI KINI! ¡POITI KINI! ¡JA RIKI PISI! (ewww! Sonido de asco)/Latrine, latrine, it really stinks! (ewww! Sound of disgust)

JA POITI KINI, POITI KINI FALTA ASERRÍN, LE FALTA ASERRÍN!/That latrine, that latrine needs sawdust, it lacks sawdust!

¡POITI KINI! ¡POITI KINI! ¡AY HAGO MI POI! (sonido de pedo)/Latrine, latrine, that’s where i go poo! (sound of passing gas)

PARA QUE NO APESTA LO TAPO CON ASERRÍN! (chi, chi)/So it doesn’t stink i cover it with sawdust! (chi, chi, sound of adding sawdust)

PARA QUE NO HAY MOSCA LO TAPO CON ASERRÍN! (chi, chi)/ So there are no flies i cover it with sawdust (chi, chi, sound of adding sawdust)

PARA HACER MI ABONO LO TAPO CON ASERRÍN! (chi, chi)/So i can make fertilizer i cover it with sawdust!(chi, chi, sound of adding sawdust)

PARA QUE NO APESTA LO TAPO CON ASERRÍN! (chi, chi)/So it doesn’t stink i cover it with sawdust (chi, chi, sound of adding sawdust)

Deborah Rivett, Wednesday, 10 April 2013

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