Tag Archives: bucket latrines

Zimbabwe – Chitungwiza’s ‘bucket system’

Jan 3, 2010

JAMES Muringani (23) of Chitungwiza’s Zengeza 4 area wakes up every morning with a bucketful of human waste for offloading at a communal blair toilet.

The human waste would have accumulated in the bucket over the night as the bucket is used by family members as their “toilet.”

This has been the norm for James as he has been conducting the chore every morning for the past five years. The Zengeza 4 section, popularly known as Pagomba, is diagonally opposite Chitungwiza Council’s head offices and has never had a sewer system since establishment in 2005.

This has prompted residents to use unorthodox means to relieve themselves, especially during the night. The “bucket system” which is now used by James’ family is common in the area, with some people resorting to using the bush to relieve themselves.

In addition, the area has never received any running water, resulting in residents depending on shallow wells for water. This is the water they drink and use for both cooking and laundry.

While residents elsewhere in Chitungwiza get into the New Year with plans to improve their yards, those from Zengeza 4 would be thinking about digging deep wells to save themselves from water problems. It seems a health time bomb is simmering at the surface and is waiting to explode in Zengeza.

Residents live in perpetual fear of contracting diseases such as cholera. They have no choice, but to stay put at their houses that have no sewer and running water because “this is where our only homes are.”

Like other residents, James has lost hope of living a normal life, as he is now accustomed to the situation in Zengeza.
“Since the time this area was built, we have not received water,” said James. “We do not even have any piping system nor sewer system.  “Promises by council to improve our way of living have for years been mere rhetoric.”

Shallow wells are conspicuous in front of a number of houses in the area. There are a number of blair toilets dotted in front of most houses and what is worrisome is that the toilets are constructed near the shallow wells. It is feared some underground water from the toilets will seep into the wells.

Other residents have resorted to using nightclubs at a nearby shopping centre for ablution facilities. Chakanetsa Panganai, from the same area, said he uses one of his bedrooms as a bathroom. 

“After putting water in a bucket, I then go ahead and bath in one of the rooms and then mop up the floor afterwards.”  But the residents seem unperturbed as they do their day-to-day business as if everything is normal.

Children are equally vulnerable to health diseases that are associated with consumption of unclean water. Those who fear contracting diseases, fetch drinking water from taps at the council head offices.

Even the city authorities do not dissuade the residents from fetching water from the council premises presumably because they know they are the ones to blame for the water problems.

“We are living by the grace of God,” said Panganai. So united are the residents that they share the use of the wells among themselves. “No hard feelings,” said Panganai. “We have to share, after all we are in the same predicament.” 

It is difficult for one to imagine that the suburb faces such a problem judging by the posh houses in the area. The towering houses give the impression that all is well. Ironically, the Chitungwiza Municipality has been billing the residents of the area despite the fact that there is no running water.

One of the residents, whose water bill recently topped more than US$150 said it was a mockery for council to bill them for water that they are not supplying. “We have been receiving bills since we started living in this area,” said the resident, who refused to be named.

But what really went wrong from the time the suburb as established? Chitungwiza Municipality unveiled the housing stands for the suburb in 2003 and sold them to home seekers who were on the housing waiting list. Council promised to develop the stands to pave way for the home seekers to construct their houses.

The council entered into an agreement with a construction company, FORIT, to develop the stands, but ended up failing to pay the required amount of money for the completion of the job. Only some roads covered with gravel were created, while the contractor moved off site before lining sewer and water pipes.

The impatient residents, seeing that their concerns were not being addressed, went ahead and constructed their houses. Most of the home seekers started building structures in 2004, while waiting for council to provide sanitation facilities.

But five years on, the local authority is still to provide sanitation facilities. Some of the residents with financial means have since started drawing water from surrounding areas.

When contacted for comment, Chitungwiza spokesperson Mr Zeph Mandirahwe referred all the questions to the town clerk, Mr Godfrey Tanyanyiwa, who was not available to comment by the time of going to print. But an official in the council health department who refused to be named said: “Council made a very big mistake by creating these neighbourhoods where there are no proper sanitation facilities.”

Zengeza 4 is not the only residential area in Chitungwiza that has no water supplies. Unit O in Seke has a perennial problem for lack of water supplies and was apparently the epicentre of the cholera outbreak that ravaged the country.

Source – http://www1.sundaymail.co.zw/inside.aspx?sectid=4406&cat=17

Kenya – Replacing the bucket latrine

WAJIR EAST, 5 November 2009 (IRIN) – The sound of the evening bell at a local boarding high-school in Wajir, in the northeast of Kenya, did not always signal the end of the day’s classes. Instead it marked the end of the evening bathroom break as “bucket toilets” were emptied for the day.

Such stories are commonly told with a mixture of humour and concern in the semi-arid region of Wajir, where most residents have little access to improved sanitation – with serious health implications.

Outside the town, people use water from open dams, which they share with animals. “During the rainy season, run-off water washes animal waste into the dam, contaminating it,” he said.

Wajir residents rely on shallow wells, due to increasing water salinity at depth, which are exposed to contamination during flash floods and from seepage.

The larger Wajir, which borders Somalia, Ethiopia, as well as the Kenyan towns of Mandera, Moyale, Isiolo and Garissa, lies in an area with large aquifers supplied by perennial rivers and dry seasonal river basins – also sources of contamination.

Like most of northern Kenya, Wajir has experienced a prolonged drought and livestock deaths. Animal carcasses litter watering points, posing a further health risk.


Wajir South Development Association (WASDA) programme manager, Haretha Bulle, told IRIN of the challenges.

“There are [largely] no flush toilets and no pit latrines,” Bulle told IRIN. A few flush toilets can be found in some hotels and in newer settlements but are rare in households.

According to a UN World Health Organization report, latrine coverage in rural Wajir is about 5 percent and just a little higher in the town.

Because of the high water table, pit latrines are not viable, and residents mainly rely on unhygienic bucket toilets – improvised from plastic jerry cans.

“Waste is collected from the bucket latrines by a tractor, which serves the whole town,” Bulle noted. The town has a population of about 220,000.

“Households are not able to dispose of waste [and] are forced to dispose it anywhere,” she said. “When it rains, the whole town smells. The water gets contaminated more easily and changes colour.”

Refuse pit and open pit dumping is prevalent.

El Nio threat

According to Wajir town resident, Khadijah Ibrahim, ongoing El Nio-related rains will only exacerbate the situation. Her family of eight shares one bucket toilet with three other households – about 24 people in total.

“Sometimes the municipal council comes to empty the bucket after a week or 15 days. By the time the waste collectors come, the bucket toilet is already overflowing,” Ibrahim said.

Her children, the youngest of whom is three, have been trained to wear shoes before going to the toilet to protect themselves, “but they only use soap to wash their hands before they eat”, Ibrahim said.


The Arid Lands Development Focus (ALDEF) NGO is piloting eco-toilets, which use heat trapped by solar panels to burn human waste, reducing it to ash.

The toilets do not use water, instead relying on a dehydration/evaporation system. Diyad Hujale, ALDEF programme manager, told IRIN the target was mainly the town centre, which requires about 5,000 toilets.

Hujale recommended that Wajir town’s by-laws should make it compulsory for any upcoming construction to have an eco-toilet facility. The challenge, he said, is “how to get rid of the bucket toilet”.

However, the cost of setting up an eco-san unit, about KSh60,000 (US$800), is prohibitive for private households.

Health education

Past recommendations to improve drainage and sanitation in Wajir have not yielded much, according to Bulle of WASDA. “It is one disaster after the other. When the rains come, we think of the drainage but forget about it when the drought comes.”

At present, village elders in Wajir are being taught how to chlorinate the community wells, according to health officer Njoroge. Health education on the importance of protecting the wells is also being provided.

He said the construction of more toilets is being encouraged in new settlements, where communities are provided with water treatment chemicals.

“Health education is ongoing. Of importance is that there is continued disease surveillance in the district,” he said. The solution lay in “providing clean water to the community and safe disposal of human waste via a sewerage system”.

Source – IRIN News

Ghana – Ban use of bucket latrines

Accra, April 30, GNA – About 20 per cent of Ghana’s population do not have any form of latrines and therefore resort to open defecation, Mr. Demedeme Naa Lenason, Director, Environmental Health and Sanitation, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development said on Thursday.

He said, also 31.45 per cent of households in Ghana used public latrines as compared to 8.5 per cent using water closet, 22 per cent pit latrine, 6.9 per cent KVIP and 6.9 per cent attend nature’s call in other people’s houses.

Mr. Lenason at a press briefing on the “Health Menace of Public Latrines” added that enhancing access to adequate sanitary facilities was imperative to improving the quality of life as well as poverty reduction.

He noted that government and development partners were investing in the water and sanitation sector in both rural and urban communities to enhance the achievement of the MDGs.

Mr Lenason, however added that with the increase in population and migration, the few facilities were over-stretched thereby creating health hazards.

Mr Lenanon therefore urged Metropolitan, Municipal and the District Assemblies to ban the defecation and urination in open spaces adding, “This can only be effect if you construct more of these facilities”.

He added that MMDAs must also take steps to ban the use of pan and bucket latrines and enforce the law on the use of domestic toilets.

Source – Modern Ghana