Pit Latrines

Pit latrines consist of a toilet seat centred over a hole dug in the ground to collect both urine and faecal matter. Faeces fill the pit, and urine seeps in to the ground. Latrines are the main sanitation method used throughout the urban slums of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean (Katukiza 2012). There are some good things about latrines such as their low cost to build and maintain, yet there are also numerous reasons that make them less than ideal. According to the Department for International Development, some of the major issues with latrines are water contamination, pests, smell, and filling (Cairncross 2011). In areas where the water table is high or where flooding occurs ground water can become contaminated by the faecal matter from a latrine. This is especially dangerous in areas where ground water is used for drinking. Latrines often smell due to moisture and are also a major breeding site for flies and mosquitos. This can lead to bites, and in the worst case insect transmitted diseases (Cairncross 2011). Additionally, when latrines are full, they will either have to be emptied, which can be expensive and difficult, or replaced (Katukiza 2012).

There are three main categories of pit latrines: simple, pour flush, and ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines. Simple latrines are the least complex of the three designs, consisting of only a toilet seat and hole in the ground. VIP latrines incorporate in the use of a ventilation system which can help the smell. Pour flush latrines use a sealed pan system that must be “flushed” with a small amount of hand poured water. The sealed design helps with the smell, but the added liquid can be a potential issue (Mara 1998). Currently there is one hand dug pit latrine in the community of Langrug (Informal Settlement Network 2011).

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