On Saturday 27 November, after many months of research, manual labor and foraging we finally had the official opening of our new green ablutions.
They were built on a property of the Siyephu family, who run village based accommodation at Mbolompo, deep on the rural Wild Coast, less than 2 hour hike from the famous Hole in the Wall. The community business was started two years ago and has had over 500 bed nights so far.
The Mbolompo Homestay offers visitors to the area a genuine Xhosa homestay experience, just 1km from the beach. It also caters for small groups who wish to stay longer and volunteer, getting their hands dirty on community and environmental projects.
Wherever possible the new ablutions were built using environmentally friendly methods and materials. The use of cement was minimised but using clay bricks (produced by local women), an earth mortar and an earth plaster. We also used as much found or recycled material as possible; such as second hand wood, potjie pot for basins, bamboo for gutters and a vuvuzella in the urinal.
The water supply for the showers is pumped up to a gravity tank by hand, so that the user is aware of how much they use and then heated by a small amount of paraffin. One of the showers is enclosed while the other is open and has a view of the forests and valley, while both are sporting a living roof of indigenous succulents.
We have constructed dry composting toilets, balked with sawdust from a nearby carpenter. The resulting decomposed waste will be used to fertilise indigenous trees, which will also be watered by the grey water from the basins and showers.
We had over 70 people help during the course of the project, proving that building green is hard work, but the finished product is worth it.
By Roger Galloway