Paying to Pee

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The South African city council of Durban are mulling over an interesting idea in an attempt to encourage waterless waste management. The plan is to pay their residents for their pee. Yes, that’s right – pay them for their pee.

The city recently installed 90,000 dry toilets in an effort to cut back on water usage, but it’s been a battle to try and get residents of the city to embrace them. Seems people don’t like the idea of discarding their own sewage just isn’t acceptable.

Durban officials have come up with a solution they think will work – they plan on paying for the waste (it can be used as fertilizer) and they hope that the idea of peeing for profit will take off with the Durban people.

The region of Durban is drought-prone and the forward thinking officials realised that flushing a valuable resource, such as water, down the drain was not the ideal option. They went ahead and installed the 90,000 dry-toilets. The toilets require users to empty them themselves, and this is something many people aren’t willing to do, even though the environmental benefits are apparent.

Lucky Sibiya, from the water department of Durban, explains that residents look down on the toilets as an inferior system and that there “is a belief saying that touching feces brings misfortune”.

So the officials had to get clever – by introducing an incentive they believe they can get the residents to embrace the new system. They want to change the way people think about their waste. The proposal states that 500 of the dry urinals will be fitted with a container that catches up to 20 litres which will be collected by city workers. The “contributers” of this waste will be compensated around R28 and the collected waste will then go on to be used to created fertilizers.

What an interesting concept. It’ll be interesting to see how Durban’s residents react to the idea that their pee might be worth its weight in Rands.

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