Cotacachi / Cotacachi / Cotacachi Indigenous

Holy Sh*t! More About Dry Composting Toilets in Cotacachi

The community of El Batan, a small village of about 70 families on the outskirts of Cotacachi, is leading the way toward healthier elimination of body waste for this area.  So far, 3 families have erected dry composting toilets, aided by the Peace Corp and its representative Mary Glover.

Yesterday we visited another El Batan family who has constructed dry composting toilets at Kurikindi, their organic farm. Aya is Japanese and her husband Hector is an Ecuadorian from El Batan.

Gary and I took one of the Cotacachi water engineers to Kurikindi to have a look at the composting toilets.  The engineer, Juan Davila, was curious. He is helping us with the city water and sewer plans for our sustainable development near El Batan.

No matter how much we explained, showed him pictures, designs or internet sites, he couldn’t grasp the idea that the dry toilets don’t pollute the land and water.  He agreed to have a look and to be open-minded about what we want to do.  And what we want to do is have beautiful composting toilets.

Gary and Juan take a cautious peek into the outdoor bathroom.

It’s a two-seater with a tile top, regular toilet seats and a bucket of wood shavings from a local carpenteria.  A few handfuls of shavings are tossed into the toilet after using.  This keeps flies away and keeps the toilet fresh-smelling.

Hector helped with the first 3 toilets built in El Batan.  His composting bathroom is made from local brick, tile and metal.  At first the room was rectangular, but odor built up because of insufficient generation of heat.

So Hector built out the back of the bathroom, with a diagonal addition covered with black metal.

This creates enough heat to kill odor and bacteria.

The family uses one toilet for a year, then switch to the other seat for another year, letting the cess in the first toilet ripen for another year before removing it for use as compost.

The humanure is used on perennials such as corn, quinoa and fruit trees. The urine in the waste creates uria, which speeds the break down of the waste.

Hector’s family likes their composting toilets so much they are building two more 2-seaters into their new straw bale house.

El Batan is training itself to use the dry composting toilets correctly.  This is bringing more consciousness to the people who are used to sitting, then leaving their bathrooms.  They are becoming more aware of the value of exercising a closed circuit on their land.

Eat, defecate, fertilize, plant, harvest, eat . . .  Round and round.  The valuable waste is kept right on their land with no need to use outside fertilizers.  Talk about eating locally!

Most of the villagers have outhouses.  Others have primitive toilets inside with a large hole that collects the waste.  When the hole is full, they must dig another or find a way to empty it.

El Batan has another problem and that’s a very high water table in the village.  Cesspools and outhouses leach pollutants into the ground water and rivers.  Hector told us that the city did a study for an El Batan sewer installation and the village said no.

They have lined up with the idea of composting toilets and the families who have them like them very much, even though they may have to empty them once a week since some families have as many as ten children!



  1. “Eat, defecate, fertilize, plant, harvest, eat . . . Round and round”, Ha ha, no waste

  2. Pingback: Cotacachi, Ecuador: Straw Bale House at Kurikindi Farm | Living in Ecuador Blog

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