Tag Archives: latrines

When are communal or public toilets an appropriate option?

When are communal or public toilets an appropriate option?We would all prefer to have our own household toilet rather than just access to a communal or public toilet but in some low-income urban communities, provision of individual household toilets is problematic. A recently published Topic Brief from WSUP (Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor) argues that, despite numerous challenges, communal or public toilets can be the most appropriate medium-term solution in some specific situations: notably in high-density slums with a high proportion of tenants and/or frequent flooding and water-logging. In such situations, what can be done to ensure that communal or public toilets provide a high-quality service of genuine benefit to all members of the community including women and the very poor? This Topic Brief offers an overview of these questions for sanitation professionals and planners.

Financing communal toilets
The financial sustainability and ongoing maintenance of communal and public toilets is a particular concern. The WSUP Practice Note “Financing communal toilets: the Tchemulane Project in Maputo” takes a look at issues around the financing of communal toilets in Maputo (Mozambique), including citywide scale-up costs.

These publications form part of a newly initiated series of Practice Notes and Topic Briefs, through which WSUP aims to share experience and stimulate debate about water and sanitation service provision for the urban poor.

To keep up to date with this growing publication series, go to http://www.wsup.com/sharing/index.htm or join our mailing list at http://www.wsup.com/news/index.htm.

Guatemala: construction guides for rural WASH facilities

Five Cabin Latrine, Aqua Para La Salud (Guatemala). Photo: Global Water

NGO Global Water provides instructions for building rural water, sanitation, and hygiene-related facilities that were developed by its partner in Guatemala, Agua Para La Salud (Water for Health). The facilities include:

  • Ferro-Cement Water Storage Tank
  • Hand Washing Stations (Lavamanos)
  • Complete Spring Catchment System
  • Five Cabin Latrine
  • Gray Water Seepage Pits

View the designs at www.globalwater.org/how-to-build.html

Burkina Faso: race to achieve goals on sanitation

The government of Burkina Faso has embarked on the construction of 55,000 latrines each year to improve access to proper sanitation for the population from the present 10 percent to 54 percent by 2015.

According to the authorities, the average rate of access to sanitation in urban areas is currently 20 percent, while in rural areas, it is as low as one percent in some areas.

Burkina Faso will invest 24 million dollars in each of the next five years. The government, which now spends $8 million a year thanks to support from donors, plans to double, even triple its own annual contribution of around $2 million from the national budget.

“When you look at all sectors, things are moving. But on sanitation, a domain so fundamental to quality of life, we can see that we are very far behind,” Laurent Sédogo, Burkinabé minister for agriculture, water and fisheries resources told IPS.

“To put it plainly, out of every 1,000 people, only 100 have adequate (sanitation) infrastructure. The other 900 must take to the bush and, to protect their modesty, many wait until the dead of night because of the loss of vegetation,” Sédogo said.

Amélie Ouédraogo, a resident of the Tanghin neighbourhood of the Burkinabé capital Ouagadougou, said that construction of latrines will permit the dead to regain their peace. “Even the cemeteries are not safe when night falls. We see people headed there, but we cannot prevent them from relieving themselves.”

According to Ouédraogo, the situation is even more dire during the rainy season, because the water which flows through the streets, a favourite playground for children, is polluted. “We have cases of diarrhoea, but people refuse to make the link between these illnesses and their causes.”

Mahamoudou Sana, a merchant in one of Ouaga’s livestock markets said, “Once we have latrines, both we and our customers can make ablutions and wash ourselves before prayers. Previously, we had to hide ourselves in tall bush to relieve ourselves during the day.”

The ministry of health underlines that the absence of toilets leads to illness, notably diarrhoea, which is responsible for 58 percent of child deaths in Burkina.

According to non-governmental organisation WaterAid, some 2,000 children die every day. The NGO adds that simply using toilets could reduce the incidence of diarrhoea by 40 percent; clean toilets, combined with safe drinking water and good hygiene, cases of diarrhoea could be reduced by 90 percent.

WaterAid is worried that 90 percent of African nations will not achieve the Millennium Development Goal on sanitation, and says that African heads of state – who re-committed themselves to promoting maternal health at the July summit of the African Union – to resolve questions of sanitation if they want to reduce child and maternal mortality.

In rural areas, where 80 percent of Burkina Faso’s population lives, the government’s plan is for 395,000 households to build toilets, as well as the construction of 12,300 public latrines. The programme also foresees 222,000 new household toilets in urban centres, alongside 900 public latrines in schools, health centres, markets and public transit points.

The Burkinabé president, Blaise Compaoré, personally participated in the launch of the campaign, with an eye to enlisting both the general population and international financial partners to make sanitation a national priority.

The government offensive comes after finding that the pace of progress is insufficient to attain the goal on sanitation in a context of rapid population growth. According to the last census in 2006, Burkina Faso’s growth rate of three percent is one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa and the world.

“Across West and Central Africa, coverage in urban areas varies between 30 and 60 percent, while in rural areas the rate is from 1 to 22 percent,” says Armah Klutsé, of the Regional Centre for Low-cost Water Supply and Sanitation (known by its French acronym, CREPA).

With headquarters in Ouagadougou, CREPA is active in 17 West and Central African countries, where it supports governments in the design and implementation of policy on sanitation and potable water.

“With this display of political will, it seems that action will be taken to achieve (sanitation goals),” Klutsé says.

Source: Brahima Ouédraogo, Inter Press Service / allAfrica.com, 31 July 2010

Uganda: resident demolishes latrine over phone

Residents in Kitagata sub-county were shocked when a man demolished a neighbour’s latrine over a mobile phone recently. The man, only identified as Byamugisha had gone to answer nature’s call from a neighbour’s latrine.

As he was leaving, his phone slipped through his hands and fell in the latrine. He begged neighbours to assist him to get his phone to no avail. Not wanting to lose the phone, he demolished the latrine and got out his phone. He however refused to reconstruct it. This prompted the owner to report the matter to the LC officials.

The local council chairman ordered Byamugisha to construct the latrine or he would be taken to Police and jailed. He has since not been seen in the village.

Source: New Vision Online, 27 Nov 2009

Ghana, Accra: Owning Latrines “Makes us Fat” – Local Community

Generally, the main perceived advantages of latrine ownership are proximity/easy access and privacy. For the people of Gozakope in the Dangme West District of the Greater Accra Region however, ownership of household latrines means all of these plus massive improvements in their health status.

Raymond Kotoka Lusu, Chairman, Water and sanitation (WATSAN) Committee of Gozakope, has said the introduction of the Community Led Total sanitation (CLTS) approach, which has led to the construction of latrines in various households in the small settlement, has improved health tremendously.

“We used to have diarrhea and stomach problems but now we are growing fat,” Lusu told members of the Ghana WATSAN Journalists Network (GWJN) who took a field trip to the area recently to know at first hand the state of water sanitation and hygiene issues (WASH), as well as, the state of interventions by the Professional Network Association (ProNet) Accra, a partner of WaterAid Ghana.

About a year ago, ProNet Accra introduced CLTS to the Gozakope community located in the Asutwuare Sub-district of the Dangme West District. Hitherto, the community engaged in “free range” defecation. Men, women and children alike defecated in the bush.

A defecation map showed that sometimes the indigenes “did their own thing” close to water bodies and on hills where it was very easy for water to run off into water bodies. Also, they had satellite refuse dumps scattered all around. Though, they experienced health hazards and its attendant problems, they appeared oblivious to the need for alternatives.

Derick Abandoh, ProNet Accra Officer in charge of Hygiene, said the organisation introduced the CLTS approach to the community because it saw evidence of open defecation. Besides, its research proved that there had not been any previous funding of any projects relating to WASH in the community.

Upon entry, ProNet officials took the community through pre-triggering (getting to know the community), triggering (mapping defecation routes), post triggering and the walk of shame (leading the community members to the defecation site and holding discussions at the scene). All of these were supposed to alert the community about the unpleasant outcome of defecating in the open.

The construction of the latrines was undertaken by the community members themselves, using locally available material and local labour. Some of them have estimated the construction cost to be between GH¢70 and GH¢100 [US$ 49-70].

According to the people, the latrines are helping to keep flies away, leading to fewer disease germs being spread from place to place and there is less fecal seepage into water bodies. The result has been that there have been fewer diseases – less diarrhea, less worms, less cholera, and less typhoid fever.

Lamisi J. Dabire, Communication and Campaigns Officer of WaterAid, Ghana, said “All these monies came from their own pockets; it shows their commitment.” She added, “We want to bring the self-help spirit in the community up.”

ProNet has also been working to improve water supply situation in the area [by] putting iron removal plants in some boreholes to make the water safe for use.

Source: Public Agenda / Peace FM Online, 23 Oct 2009

Nepal: Sanitation finally a priority

The diarrhoea that spread earlier in 2009 in 18 districts across Nepal killed nearly 300 people; nearly six months after the initial outbreak, four ministries have finally made a joint commitment to launch a massive water and sanitation campaign to meet the state’s target of providing complete sanitation to all by 2017.

“We were not able to launch all components of water and sanitation in a comprehensive manner earlier, which is why we had diarrhea-related deaths every year,” said Dr. Babu Ram Marasini, chief of health sector reform unit at the Ministry of Health.

The programme was launched on Global Handwashing Day on 15 October 2009 as a comprehensive and combined effort by the Ministries of Health, Education, Physical Planning and Works, and Local Development. The programme will see extension of the construction of latrines in all 75 districts, awareness programmes, establishment of a national sanitation fund among others, according to Kamal Adhikari, an official at the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage. Adhikari also said that the ministries have planned to review the existing policies to provide complete sanitation to all by 2017.

According to a report by WaterAid, about 14.2 million people do not have access to sanitation and 7.1 million lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation in the country; similarly, according to the Ministry of Health, 54 percent of the country does not have access to latrines. Likewise, only 37 percent wash their hands, and only 12 percent use soap. Also, 45 percent of deaths caused by avoidable diseases is because of unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation. “Earlier, we used to implement programmes related to water and sanitation separately but we are now planning to go ahead in a joint and comprehensive manner,” said Adhikari.

Source: The Kathmandu Post; The Rising Nepal; Gorkhapatra; Naya Patrika; Annapurna Post; Kantipur; Nepal Samacharpatra / NGO Forum, 15 Oct 2009

Bangladesh: microfinance agencies enable entrepreneurs to provide more sanitation technology options

Over the last five years in Bangladesh, more than 90 million people have moved away from open defecation. While 88 percent of the population now have access to, and are using latrines, ensuring the quality and sustainability of these latrines is crucial. Without ready access to micro-credit and in the absence of well marketed technology options, many households are under pressure to move from very low cost to very high cost technology options with a significant debt burden.

In July 2009, the Association for Social Advancement: ASA (a leading Micro-Finance Institute) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Dhaka Ahsania Mission (a national non-governmental organization) to provide loans at low interest to local small entrepreneurs for producing, marketing, and promoting appropriate sanitation technology options.

Dhaka Ahsania Mission will pilot the new financing mechanism in Jamalpur Sadar Upazilla (a sub district) with trained entrepreneurs. The Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) facilitated this process of linking local private manufacturers with micro-finance agencies to bring finance and technology together to make available a range of affordable sanitation options for households.

Source: WSP Access, Oct 2009

Nepal: opportunity to use toilet for the first time in 83 years

Silgadi: Haridatta Bhatta, 83, a resident of Nuwakot of Kalikasthan VDC-6 felt uneasy while using a toilet for the first time in his life. Bhatta, who has been practicing open air defecation, has used toilet for the first time in his life. Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH) has initiated to construct toilets in Nuwakot located 34 kilometers far from Silgadi, district headquarters of Doti district.

Bhatta shared that he felt very uneasy to use the newly constructed toilet in his house. Not only Haridatta, Ram Bahadur Bika, 49, has also similar kind of experience. Ram Bahadur, who used to defecate in the open, shared his experience, “I could not defaecate in the toilet in the first time.”

Not only Haridatta and Ram Bahadur, about 72 families in ward no. 6 of Kalikasthan VDC have constructed toilets after completion of the Nuwakot Drinking Water, Health Education and Sanitation Project launched in Mid-August 2008 with support of Nepal Water for Health. The project was completed at an investment of about Rs. 1.1 million including financial support worth Rs. 879,586 from NEWAH and local’s labour contribution worth Rs. 240,028.

Source: Gorkhapatra / NGO Forum, 25 Sep 2009

In India, New Seat of Power for Women – the success of the “No Toilet, No Bride” program

Prospective Brides Demand Sought-After Commodity: A Toilet. But by linking toilets to courtship, the “No Toilet, No Bride” program in Haryana has been the most successful sanitation promotion effort so far.

NILOKHERI, India — An ideal groom in this dusty farming village is a vegetarian, does not drink, has good prospects for a stable job and promises his bride-to-be an amenity in high demand: a toilet.

In rural India, many young women are refusing to marry unless the suitor furnishes their future home with a bathroom, freeing them from the inconvenience and embarrassment of using community toilets or squatting in fields.


Cartoon by Neelabh in Times of India, 23 Mar 2009

About 665 million people in India — about half the population — lack access to latrines. But since a “No Toilet, No Bride” campaign started about two years ago, 1.4 million toilets have been built here in the northern state of Haryana, some with government funds, according to the state’s health department.

Women’s rights activists call the program a revolution as it spreads across India’s vast and largely impoverished rural areas.

“I won’t let my daughter near a boy who doesn’t have a latrine,” said Usha Pagdi, who made sure that daughter Vimlas Sasva, 18, finished high school and took courses in electronics at a technical school. “No loo? No ‘I do,’ ” Vimlas said, laughing as she repeated a radio jingle.

“My father never even allowed me an education,” Pagdi said, stroking her daughter’s hair in their half-built shelter near a lagoon strewn with trash. “Every time I washed the floors, I thought about how I knew nothing. Now, young women have power. The men can’t refuse us.”

Indian girls are traditionally seen as a financial liability because of the wedding dowries […] but that is slowly changing as women marry later and grow more financially self-reliant. More rural girls are enrolled in school than ever before.

A societal preference for boys here has become an unlikely source of power for Indian women. The [illegeal but widespread] abortion of female fetuses in favor of sons means there are more eligible bachelors than potential brides, allowing women and their parents to be more selective when arranging a match.

“I will have to work hard to afford a toilet. We won’t get any bride if we don’t have one now,” said Harpal Sirshwa, 22, who is hoping to marry soon. […] “I won’t be offended when the woman I like asks for a toilet.”

Satellite television and the Internet are spreading images of rising prosperity and urban middle-class accouterments to rural areas, such as spacious apartments — with bathrooms.

[…] With economic freedom, women are increasingly expecting more, and toilets are at the top of their list, they say.

[…] “Women suffer the most since there are prying eyes everywhere,” said Ashok Gera, a doctor who works in a one-room clinic here. “It’s humiliating, harrowing and extremely unhealthy. I see so many young women who have prolonged urinary tract infections and kidney and liver problems because they don’t have a safe place to go.”

Previous attempts to bring toilets to poor Indian villages have mostly failed. A 2001 project sponsored by the World Bank never took off because many people used the latrines as storage facilities or took them apart to build lean-tos, said Ranjana Kumari, director of the Center for Social Research in New Delhi, who worked on the program.

Indra Bhatia, who is raising seven children in Panchgujran, India, said her toilet has changed her life. When I marry my daughters off, I will make sure that their home is fully equipped with a toilet and the works, she said. (By Emily Wax -- The Washington Post)

Indra Bhatia, who is raising seven children in Panchgujran, India, said her toilet has changed her life. "When I marry my daughters off, I will make sure that their home is fully equipped with a toilet and the works," she said. (By Emily Wax -- The Washington Post)

But by linking toilets to courtship, “No Toilet, No Bride” has been the most successful effort so far. Walls in many villages are painted with slogans in Hindi, such as “I won’t get my daughter married into a household which does not have a toilet.” Even popular soap operas have featured dramatic plots involving the campaign.

“The ‘No Toilet, No Bride’ program is a bloodless coup,” said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International, a social organization, and winner of this year’s Stockholm Water Prize for developing inexpensive, eco-friendly toilets. “When I started, it was a cultural taboo to even talk about toilets. Now it’s changing. My mother used to wake up at 4 a.m. to find someplace to go quietly. My wife wakes up at 7 a.m., and can go safely in her home.”

Pathak runs a school and job-training center for women who once cleaned up human waste by hand. They are known as untouchables, the lowest caste in India’s social order. As more toilets come to India, the women are less likely to have to do such jobs, Pathak said.

“I want so much for them to have skills and dignity,” Pathak said. “I tell the government all the time: If India wants to be a superpower, first we need toilets. Maybe it will be our women who finally change that.”

[This article has attracted 128 reader comments so far, unfortunately many are off-topic rants about religion, abortion etc and toilet jokes]

Source: Emily Wax, Washington Post, 12 Oct 2009

South Africa, Cape Town: basic services needed to save babies

Toddler Sanele Qaqa should have been running around his home by now. Instead, his family is grieving his death, which could have been prevented. Sanele, the youngest of six children, died in March [2009], just two weeks ahead of his second birthday.

[…] A shocking 37 city children younger than five died of diarrhoea in February, March and April [2009] – deaths that could easily have been avoided. In 2005, more than 100 children, most of them from poverty-stricken areas, died, statistics show.

But health officials are making headway in the war on this disease. According to the Department of Health, the main contributors to the death rate are lack of access to potable water, and inadequate sanitation, sewerage services, and hygiene practices. The deaths earlier this year were largely concentrated in informal settlements where access to clean water was limited.

[Cape Town] has said that although it spends R10-million a year installing sanitation infrastructure, it is costing it R60m a year to repair infrastructure that has been damaged.

Broken toilets, stagnant pools of dirty water and human waste are common in informal settlements. These are the conditions in which disease thrives.

[Sanele Qaqa died on 28 March 2009, two days after falling ill]. One week earlier, on March 17, one-year-old Unabantu Mali died, tied to the back of his grandmother, as she made the two-hour walk home after allegedly being turned away from three health-care centres at which she had sought help for the boy, who had diarrhoea. A probe later cleared the facilities of wrongdoing.

Sanele was one of 3 586 children admitted to hospital for diarrhoea in the past year. Provincial health department spokeswoman Faiza Steyn said there was no accurate picture of deaths from diarrhoea that occurred outside hospitals.

[…] Of the 37 children who died, four had malnutrition and 12 were HIV-positive. Dehydration was the direct cause of the deaths of 14 of the children, said Steyn.

[…] According to Jaco Muller, of the City of Cape Town’s water and sanitation department, the capital expenditure for these services was R23m, while operating expenditure was R80m. The city has 223 informal settlements. The number of toilets needed was 27 052. In May, there were 2 078. The required number of standpipes providing potable water was 5 148, compared with the 4 402 that were in place.

“If all families were to have ready access to clean potable water, the risk of contamination would be considerably reduced,” said Steyn. “The risk would be further reduced if water was stored in clean containers that were cleaned regularly.”

While 37 deaths in three months is high, the mortality rate has improved since 2005, when more than 100 children in the metropole died. The provincial and city health departments have tried to curb the number of deaths through, among other things, awareness campaigns.

From April 1, [2010], a new vaccine is to be introduced that can reduce the incidence and severity of diarrhoea.

Source: Esther Lewis and Lavern De Vries, Cape Argus / Mercury & Independent Online, 05 Oct 2009