Roger Robinson suggested I let this group know about the work being done regarding human waste on Mount Kilimanjaro trails.
Kilimanjaro hikers, trails & toilets summary:
Kilimanjaro sees approximately 50,000 hikers per year on 5 main routes to the summit. These hikers can employ between 100,000-200,000 guides and porters to support their climb. Trip lengths usually range from 5-10 days depending on the route and the number of acclimatization days built into the trip. Hiking time between camps is 4-6 hours. Each camp has several pit toilets and the trails usually have a toilet at a half-way break area. When full, a pit toilet is covered and the shelter moved to a different location.
A current Kilimanjaro human waste problem:
Kili hikers and staff members will defecate on the trails and in the camps for many reasons including the following:
-they are at a place on the trail without a toilet and can’t wait until one is found
-the nearby pit toilet is either occupied, completely full of waste or is dirty
-they don’t want to walk to the closest toilet
As a result, it is easy to find human feces and toilet paper littering the trails and campsites.
The clean-up plan:
-The Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) will issue a policy that requires Kili tour operators to enforce the use of either a pit toilet, a portable toilet or a WAG bag by their clients & staff. No enforcement means the loss of their permit to have clients on Kili.
- WAG bags are taken down the mountain by each group, deposited into receptacles and collected for recycling into compost.
-A crew will be hired to clean the trails and camps of any feces and toilet paper that currently exists on the surface. This process may take 1-2 years depending on funding and staffing.
-October to November 2015: Initial training and teaching on the new policy
-January to June 2016: Implementation of new policy and the start of cleaning
It’s probably not going to be an easy change for anyone and I welcome any comments or suggestions you have. I’ll update the group in the future on the progress.
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Cleaning Kilimanjaro Trails and Camps of Human Waste – Update on January 15, 2016
Meetings with National Park staff and Kili guides/porters:
Several meetings were held during November 2015 in Tanzania to discuss the feasibility of a policy that bans defecation on the ground and requires the use of a pit toilet, a portable toilet or a WAG bag by everyone on the mountain – hikers, their support staff and park employees.
National Park leadership – The park would like to implement this policy but is concerned that used WAG bags will be discarded on trails which will increase the waste problem. Several methods of WAG bag disposal were discussed but focus is on one solution: wag bags can be made of composting material so that they can be deposited into the next pit toilet passed. This decreases the distance the bags have to be carried.
Kili Guides and porters – They welcome a policy that keeps the mountain free of feces and TP on the ground but…… they are very hesitant about carrying their own or their client’s used WAG bag. They proposed the above solution to deposit the bag in the closest toilet to minimize carrying time. They also emphasized the need for education of the new policy.
-Decide on a WAG bag disposal solution - carrying off the mountain or pit toilet disposal
-Notification and education of the new policy
-Begin with a pilot project on one Kili trail
-Begin the clean-up of existing waste on the ground on the piloted trail
Addition to initial plan:
Geoff Hill, who is a member of this Google Group, will travel to Tanzania in February 2016 and will generate a human waste management plan for the National Park.
I am in Tanzania Jan-Feb 2016 working with the National Park to determine dates for the “Next Steps” items.
Cleaning Kilimanjaro Trails and Camps of Human Waste – Update #2 on February 25, 2016
Kilimanjaro National Park staff transitions -
I was in Tanzania for 5 weeks during January & February 2016. During this time, several Kilimanjaro National Park employees were moved to new positions including the two main contacts on this project, the Park Warden and the Director of Tourism. The country is experiencing staff shifts throughout many government offices due to changes implemented by the country’s new president.
February meeting with Tanzania National Park staff / Delay of Geoff Hill’s visit to Kili -
The project was presented to seven staff members at the Tanzania National Park offices. They verbally gave approval and said written approval would come within 3 days. When the written approval was not received, the February visit by Geoff Hill to do a Waste Management Plan was delayed.
- A contact near the Kilimanjaro National Park office has been tasked to get to know the new staff at the park, present the project’s history and get their approval to move forward.
- Another contact near the Tanzania National Park office is working to track down the promised written approval.
- Geoff Hill’s trip will be rescheduled after written approval is received. Target date is July or September 2016 to avoid the rainy season on Kili.