* The WHO favors vaccines to stop cholera.
In the entire article, the notion of composting human excrement is overlooked, yet it is perhaps the safest and most efficient way of eliminating dangerous pathogens. As stated in the article, cholera often makes the headlines due to its virulence, but we rarely hear about all the other diseases that kill over 1.5m children a year related to poor sanitation. Finding a vaccine for one single disease will not solve the greater problem that arises when human waste is mixed with water.
The system of collecting and composting "night soil" garantees a safe way to significantly reduce contamination. Moreover, it does not need any water, and the only energy required are the billions of natural microorganisms that convert our organic discards into soil-building material. In short, it is a system that would cost far less than 5 cents a day. Perhaps among the reasons why composting human waste is not viewed as a viable solution or even mentioned in the article are the social and cultural norms in our Western World.
Most of us believe that not doing "our business" in water that can be flushed away immediately is unsanitary, stinky, and perhaps just plain primitive. As Joseph Jenkins from his book Humanure Handbook reveals:
"In the United States, humans take flush toilets for granted. You take your dump into a large bowl of drinking water, then flush it. End of story. That's the civilized thing to do. But where does the flushed material go? What would happen if everyone in the world crapped in their drinking water supplies? Why doesn't any other land mammal defecate deliberately in water? Why do we? These all seem like questions any reasonably curious person would ask once in a while. What if the toilet won't flush? Then what? How long can you hold it? People actually crap in ziplock bags and put them in the trash during power outages. Really."
"This ritual of defecating in water may be useful for maintaining a good standing within western culture. If you don't deposit your feces into a bowl of drinking water on a regular basis, you may be considered a miscreant of sorts, perhaps uncivilized or dirty or poverty stricken. You may be seen as a non-conformist or a radical.
Yet, the discarding of human organic waste into water supplies obviously affects water quality. By defecating directly into water, we pollute it. Every time we flush a toilet, we launch five or six gallons of polluted water out into the world. That would be like defecating into a five gallon office water jug and then dumping it out before anyone could drink any of it. Then doing the same thing when urinating. Then doing it every day, numerous times. Then multiplying that by about 250 million people in the United States alone.
Even after the contaminated water is treated in wastewater treatment plants, it may still be polluted with excessive levels of nitrates, chlorine, pharmaceutical drugs, industrial chemicals, detergents, and other pollutants. This "treated" water is discharged directly into the environment."
These harsh lines reveal the contrast between what is done in developed countries, and the reality within developing countries. It would be unrealistic to think that the western way of dealing with human waste should be the goal for all countries around the world. Most places could never even afford such water consumption, nor may they ever have infrastructures advanced enough
In conclusion, there is a world-wide sanitation problem that can be easily fixed by composting human waste. While billions are being spent on vaccines and reactive sanitation methods, one of the cheapest, most efficient, and safest methods is overlooked!