Characterization of pit latrines to support design and selection of emptying tools in peri-urban Mzuzu, Malawi

Characterization of pit latrines to support design and selection of emptying tools in peri-urban Mzuzu, Malawi. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development | in press | 2017

Authors: Rashid Chiposa, Rochelle H. Holm, Chimuleke Munthali, Russel C. G. Chidya and Francis L. de los Reyes III

The urban areas of many low-income countries must balance a rising demand for pit latrines for household sanitation provision against limitations in space, resulting in a need for pit latrine emptying services.

This study was undertaken in the peri-urban neighborhood of Area 1B in the city of Mzuzu, Malawi, to examine the characteristics of household pit latrines for designing and selecting pit latrine emptying tools. We used 150 structured household surveys and field observations. From this, a subset was selected and 30 manual cone penetrometer tests were conducted at full latrines. Chemical oxygen demand analysis was also performed at 14 pit latrines.

The results indicated that in addition to serving as a disposal for fecal matter, 90% of households also used pit latrines for domestic waste. Only 10% of the studied pit latrines were lined. The filling rate in the study area is calculated to be about three years, and no respondents reported previous emptying.

It is suggested pit latrine emptying technology development focuses on a maximum tool diameter of 10 cm to fit through the keyhole (squat hole) and height of 146 cm to fit inside the superstructure, as well as supporting unlined pits and the ability to pump trash.

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