Musings about Outhouses, Slopping Hogs, and Cesspools

Americans often think our sanitation system has been in place for eons but no, my grandparents used outhouses and I did too, when I visited them.  I remember when I was little.  I loved the farm animals and really, truly wanted to be helpful and feed my grandma’s hogs.  Unfortunately, I had to walk across boards to get to the other side of a cesspool where the hog pen was so I could “slop” them.  I was so scared I would fall in that I trembled.  Villages in developing countries aren’t all that far behind the U.S.  Listen to a short report from Voice of America and read an article, Even Simple Latrines Can Cut Parasite Infections in Half, that tells how dramatically a sanitation program can improve health.  Click on the gray audio link a few paragraphs into the article.  I got this via the March 2012 issue of the newsletter of Wasrag, the Rotary Action Group for Water and Sanitation.

From the article:  [Swiss researcher] “Utzinger points out that these kinds of parasitic worms were once common in the southeastern United States, a region that was desperately poor until the mid-20th century. The fact that public health programs successfully eradicated these soil-transmitted parasites suggests that eliminating them in places like sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia is an achievable goal.”  Of course, my worries were different when I was 8 years old–but very real!  Maybe that’s why I have never eaten pork!  Traumatized by that walk across the planks to feed the hogs.

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