Humanitarian Response

255 million people are directly impacted by natural disasters each year. More than 42 million people are displaced by violent conflicts at this very moment. In the over-crowded camp environments that arise, and without adequate sanitation in place, people are exposed to the dangerous and lethal pathogens contained in faeces. As a result, the toll on human life rapidly multiplies.

Building upon the unique qualities of Peepoo together with effective distribution, the Peepoople Humanitarian Response Model is designed to reach 50,000 beneficiaries within three week’s time.

The model has been developed and evaluated in emergencies in Haiti and Sindh province and will from 2012 be implemented through partnerships between Peepoople and established relief organisations that have extensive field presences.

Learn more from those who are engaged.

Professor Eric Odada, UNSGAB

“No doubt, with population increases, climate change and environmental degradation, social disruptions and social strife are going to be more frequent and intense,” says Professor Eric Odada, University of Nairobi.

“One area where we think there is no other viable sanitation technology except Peepoo is when you have emergencies,” Odada continues. “And they are becoming more frequent. Occurrences such as volcanic eruptions and civil unrest can completely displace a whole town, a whole group of communities. Then you have people coming together in a refugee kind of situation. These have actually been ‘time bombs’ in terms of pollution because there is no prior arrangement in place of how the human waste is going to be handled in those areas.”

In addition to being an expert of water resources and the vulnerability to environmental change in Africa, Professor Odada is a distiguished member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. He is also one of the founders of Peepoople Kenya NGO.

“With Peepoo, once there is a situation such as what happened in Haiti, you can quickly supply these the same way the World Health Organisation and the world food programs supply provisions for health and for food. Peepoos can also be supplied for sanitation. I see this as probably an area where the use of Peepoo is going to be increasingly important, and maybe the only solution for solving health and sanitation problems in such areas.”

Peepoople are now building long-term collaborations and partnerships with the goal of making a real difference in saving lives and mitigating suffering when disaster strikes.


Alexia Staaf, Peepoople Promoter Coordinator

As Peepoople Promoter Coordinator, Alexia was responsible for coordinating with Peepoople’s partner, the International Rescue Committee, for evaluations in Haiti following the earthquake of 2010. The Coordinator’s role is to establish and manage a network of Promoters and Community Mobilisers who carry out the activities at the community level.

In Port au Prince, seven months after the earthquake, 30% of camps did not have toilets of any kind. For those camps with toilets, the most common are latrines, pit toilets with a hole dug in the ground, and then plastic portable toilets. Yet, in 2011 when Alexia was there, the situation had barely changed. “For me Peepoo is about preventing a disaster in an already evolved disaster,” Alexia explains. “In Haiti the challenges are still staggering because half a million people still live in camps. Even so, these emergency settlements have been sheltering lives since the earthquake hit two years ago. Children are being born, people fall in love and people die in these camps. And they shit.”

Alexia continues: “Many NGO´s have provided latrines, commonly called porta potties, for many of the camps. But these facilities are not sustainable. They need to be de-sludged. People don’t keep them clean, and they’re sites of violence. There is no electricity, and as a result, no lights. In Port-au-Prince, women are raped every night when they go to the latrines.”

“In fact, every night in Port-au-Prince, the latrines are emptied by men seen as untouchable. By necessity they have to work naked. Most aid organisations present in Port-au-Prince are paying for this service to empty their latrines. The men receive $30 for every drum that is brought to the dumping site at Mon Cabrite. If the toilet is not a bucket latrine, they first pour water in the pit to loosen up the content. Then they empty it by descending into the pit, naked, and begin filling large barrels. These barrels are then loaded into trucks for transport to the dumping site.”

“This secretive community, called ‘Bayakou’, usually works at night and insists that no one observes them. The emptying methods are very unhygienic, with workers standing in the excreta whilst removing it with buckets and shovels.”


Ayesha Noor Rahoja, Facilitator, UN-Habitat

Aysha works for UN-Habitat in Hyderabad, Pakistan, and together with Tahir Ali Rind is engaged in the Peepoo evaluation for the Sindh floods that occurred in the autumn of 2011. The project is headed by Maria Berndtsson from Peepoople.

Aysha explains: “It was a friend who told me about this job and she is also working as a facilitator. I went for an interview and they told me I could start immediately, so I moved from my family to Hyderabad. Before this job, I have worked as a teacher and with women and children health issues. But this is the first time that I´m away from my family and I miss them very much. But I also enjoy working. I was happy to hear about Peepoo and volunteered right away to be one of the people to promote Peepoo.”

The Peepoo Promoters or Facilitators manage the day-to-day distribution and promotion activities, with each Promoter heading a group of eight Community Mobilisers in a specific location or sector of a disaster-affected population. They are given a condensed training course in why and how to use Peepoo by the Peepoople Coordinator. Then, they recruit, train, and manage Peepoo Community Mobilisers or other outreach workers. As such, they build up the Promoter Team consisting of eight to 10 mobilisers. With this stucture, they can reach more than 60 households in a single day.

“I met Maria and it was fun for me to work with a foreigner because I had never done that before,” Aysha continues, “and it was good for my English since I practiced every day. Together with Maria and Tahir, we had a whole day where Maria thought us about Peepoo and we practiced on how to mobilise the community. The next day we went out in the field to the affected communities and there we conducted training about Peepoo.”

“We also taught the children how to use the Peepoo and they where very excited and fast learners. I had a lot of fun since I like children and it was easy for me since I have been a teacher before, Aysha concludes.”


Charley Paya, Translator, IRC Haiti

Every morning, the daily supply of Peepoos that are needed are brought from a warehouse to a Peepoo distribution centre near the affected area. The driver often doubles as the direct verbal interface between the Peepoople international staff and the affected community. In the Peepoople demonstration with the International Rescue Committee (IRC)on Haiti, Charley worked as translator for Alexia, the Peepoople Coordinator.

Charley himself was severely affected by the 2010 Earthquake, which left him and his sister alone. He took a job as a translator for an American missionary and worked with him until he got work with the IRC. Charley is married, but he and his wife have no children. He is very active in the church and is the leader of the youth group. Earlier, he worked with the Children Protection Program at IRC, but he was laid of in October of 2011, Due to a lack of funding, many people were let go at that time. Now he has no work but goes to school, studying law in the afternoons. One day during lunch Charley said that he hadn’t eaten since the day before because there is little money. Only one meal per day is possible.

The Peepoo distribution and promotion are followed up with a rapid household assessment of 10 to 20 houses chosen at random in each area to see if the Peepoos are being used, by who and whether people felt that the distribution was carried out fairly.

Alexia provides an image from such a meeting: “Sitting down with the families during an evaluation, the translator is giving us, the participating families and me, voices for the first time. We sit on the ground between the shelters. Children run around the camp in packs. A mother is washing clothes, smiling easily while loud kompa music starts to play a few shelters down. The programme has made an impact on them and their families. So they are telling me.”


Lima Del Brise, Bois jn Charles Camp Haiti

Lima is 51-years-old and the father of four; three boys and one girl. He is trying to support his family, but it’s hard. He works with different things he can find. These are mainly in construction work and rubble removal. He finds new jobs when the work at one place is finished. He supports his family of six. One day, when we were back for evaluation, his wife was away at the market. If I understood it right, she was selling small things they grow outside the house. They live in Bois jn Charles, in a shelter that they own, and don’t have to pay any rent.

Bois jn Charles Camp is one of the camps that is now slowly being emptied. This is line with the transition from the emergency to the development phase that is now happening in Port au Prince. The land where the camps are located are being claimed by the landowners who allowed the land be used as camp sites during the emergency phase. The government is building semi-permanent shelters and putting up settlements outside of the city where the people are asked to move. The families are usually offered money to do so. Rumours have started that the landowners are taking desperate measures to get the camps emptied. Fires are being lit in the camps at night to get the people to go when they won’t leave on their own.

Sonia Lucien, Lima’s wife, received the Peepoo demonstration in the camp. While the demonstration was being conducted, her children were at school and Lima was at work. She was asked to train her family on “Why and How to use Peepoo”. During the evaluation Lima was asked if he got sufficient information from his wife to independently use and manage Peepoo, including opening, securely using and properly disposing of it. Answering with a silent laugh, Lima replied, “It’s just so easy the way my wife explains. I’m happy that the program is working so well with my family.” And do you think the Peepoo will continuosly work in our community? “Yes, very much.” For a long time? “Yes, now that I’ve started to use Peepoo, only death can stop me from using it.”