Sipaia, Papua New Guinea REVISITED

Original project:

December 2012


December 2015

The design of the composting toilets at Sipaia was quite innovative from both technical and cultural perspectives and we were most keen to get some feedback at the earliest possible time.

Fortunately Deane Woruba (Yawara Consultants and working pro-bono thanks Deane!!) undertook a survey two months after completion. He reported that the toilets were being embraced by the households and interviewed the community about the project. He was asked ‘when are Bower Studio coming back and can we have some of these toilets too?’. Deane identified patterns of use – very interesting from a research perspective – and also identified some areas for improvement.

In mid 2013 (six months after completion) Matt Breen and Ilari Lehtonen (students from the initial project) won research funding to revisit Sipaia to conduct a formal review as a research subject in their MArch degree. Assisted by Trevor Galgal they spent time evaluating the project and had a $2000 budget to purchase construction materials to address the issues identified by the community and passed on by Deane.

Some of these improvements included the installation of metal grating to stop animals burrowing under the composting bins (it was cooler under there) and improved the access to the toilets for children. Matt and Ilari’s research is titled ‘Learning from Sipaia’.

In late 2015 (two and a half years after completion) Deane organized his uncle, Aung Kumal, to visit Sipaia and undertake another review of the project. Again he was asked ‘When can the Bower people come back and work with us again?’. That is exciting to hear and we are looking at gaining some funding to increase our health hardware outcomes in PNG