Tag Archives: pay-per-use public toilets

The 2theloo concept: a clean restroom, a shop with toiletries and a coffee corner

2theloo Hoog Catharijne, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Photo: 2theloo

Dutch entrepreneur Eric Treurniet opens his ninth 2theloo restroom shop on 7 October 2011 in Warsaw, just 8 months after he first introduced his new public toilet concept in an Amsterdam shopping street.

Treurniet got the idea to develop the 2theloo concept when he was out shopping with his wife and children in Bruges (Belgium) and found it very difficult to find a clean toilet.

The 2theloo concept means “always clean” restrooms and washrooms, a shop with toiletries, storage closets, sometimes a coffee corner, a family restroom for parents with children, and a special restroom for the disabled.

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Uganda: Museveni warns against toilet fees

President Yoweri Museveni has described the practice of overcharging by operators of public toilet and markets as “parasitism”.

“Instead of developing common facilities in markets, business people make huge money out of people defecating. For somebody to use a toilet in Nakawa market, he must pay sh200 [9 US dollar cents]. This is not acceptable,” he stressed.

Museveni was speaking at the opening of the second national conference of his National Resistance Movement (NRM) party on 11 September 2010.

Running public toilets in towns has become a gold mine, especially in Kampala.

Kampala City Council estimates that there are over 2,550 users of public toilets per day.

According to a recent Saturday Vision survey, public toilet operators in Nakasero market and the Old Taxi Park, for instance, charge sh500 [22 US dollar cents] for bathing, sh200 [9 US dollar cents] ablution, sh300 [14 US dollar cents] long calls and sh200 [9 US dollar cents]  for short calls.

The survey revealed that an operator can make at least sh12,000 per hour just from one item.

Related news: Ghana: toilet wars, WASH news Africa, 12 Feb 2009

Source: New Vision, 14 Sep 2010

India, Pune: train turns into public toilet at railway station

Vendors and beggars living near Pune station are using the toilets on a waiting express train rather the pay-per-use public toilets. The agency responsible for keeping the tracks clean says there isn’t enough time or water to remove the mess on time. Railway passengers are complaining about the stink.

As soon as the Pune-Mumbai-Sinhagad Express leaves Pune station at 6.05 am, the stink from grime lining the tracks at Pune railway station becomes unbearable. This is because, over the years, the train leaving for Mumbai from Pune has become a public toilet not for the daily passengers, but for all those who spend nights in and around Pune station.

No sooner the train arrives at the platform from the yard, there is a scramble among autorickshaw drivers, vendors, street children, beggars, hotel workers, to get inside the train to use the toilets. The train remains at the station for nearly half-an-hour by that time it is filled with Mumbai passengers as well. Since this facility comes for free, they do not want to use the public toilet made available at the station premises, according to railway officials.

According to railway officials, the stink and squalor at the Pune station begins early morning. The situation becomes worse as number of trains leave Pune station soon after the Sinhagad Express departs. While station manager CD Pounikar has been blaming the SMS Ltd, the agency which has been tasked to keep tracks clean, the agency officials argue the time between two trains arriving and leaving Pune station is too short to carry out immediate cleanup. They also point out that sufficient water is not available.

However, regular passengers and activists point out that the platform used by the express train is supposed to be kept clean by the railway staff and not the contractors.

Harsha Shah, president, Railway Pravasi Group [said] the Central Railways should implement the track system like the one at Kolkata railway station. “The Kolkata railway station has concrete surface on the tracks which make cleaning job easier. No sooner the trains leave, the staff immediately clean up the concrete surface”.

In 2001 the situation was even worse according to a Times of India article. Female commuters had to wade “through a pile of human excreta” to catch the Singhabad Express. Slums dwellers were using the platform for open defecation.

Source: Manoj More, Indian Express, 29 Jun 2010

Uganda, Kampala: living on the edge in Namuwongo

On a tiny crumbling concrete floor sits a raised makeshift building with stairs of half-baked bricks. With the upper part screened off by boxes and plastic materials, this is what passes for a toilet in Namuwongo. This, according to Jamila Erika would be remarkable, if the toilets were plenty and enough for everyone.

“We have been robbed of our dignity,” says Erika, a resident of Kanyogoga. “Can you imagine women living without a toilet in the house? The most difficult thing is to get a toilet because they are too few and they are closed at night.”

A levy of sh100 [US$ 0.05] is also imposed on the users of the shared toilet, which Erika says pushes some people to use the bush instead. For those who are not bold enough to engage in open defecation, there is an option [“flying toilets”], which is equally degrading.

“With plenty of empty plastic bags, women who stay home when their husbands are away, help themselves in the plastic bags and keep them inside their houses. When the night comes, most women move out and discard the plastic bags,” says Erika.

In some of the tiny corridors, children answer the call of nature. There are heaps of faeces as one moves towards the swamp, making it difficult to walk there.

Swarms of houseflies hovering over the shacks feast on the heaps and later make millions of landings on the dirty plates nearby.


Ironically, it is rare for Namuwongo residents to wash their hands, a practice, which Sam Mutono of the World Bank says would cut down on incidents of water-borne diseases by up to 60%. “This practice has not been nurtured in Namuwongo,” says Mutono.

At the stand pipes, Erika says a jerrycan of water goes for sh50 [US$ 0.025] and that most women have only sh200 [US$ 0.10] by the husbands to run the home for the whole day. “Can you imagine hunting for food, water and firewood with just that money?” asks Erika. “For us, putting food on the table is a miracle and spending money on a shared toilet is an afterthought.”

In their tiny crumbling houses, the women have an extra burden of nursing children that frequently fall sick when water-borne diseases become so rampant. “I have to spend most of the money treating children in the rainy season,” says Erika. “This also means that I have to stay home much longer when they are sick.”

In times of hardship, it is women and children that suffer most. “The men care less because they step out of home very early and come back too late to listen to the problems their wives and children are facing,” says Erika. “It is common for men to run to other women in different parts of Kampala to escape responsibilities at home.”

Most patients during the three devastating outbreaks of cholera that spread through Kampala in 1997, 2007 and 2008 came from Namuwongo. InOctober 2009, cholera revisited Namuwongo and claimed three lives. One victim was a woman and the other two were children.

Too much unsafe water

Erika says when it rains, it floods and dirty water from the dreaded Nakivubo Channel seeps into the spring water wells contaminating the drinking water, a reliable source for those who cannot afford tap water.

“Most children miss classes because they are sick”, says Emily Hashaka, who works with an NGO. “We provide some medicine, but this is like a drop in the sea.”

The occupants of this slum count themselves lucky if the rainy season passes without cholera striking. The women sometimes sell household utensils in order to get money to buy medicine and food, according to Hashaka.

The LC1 chairperson for Kanyogoga, Emmanuel Masengere, says unsafe toilets were demolished since floods easily drain away the faeces into the houses. “This place is congested with people. The water table is high and the pit latrines are floating on water. So we constructed public latrines, which are safer, but too few.”

Asked whether their cries have been heard, Masengere replies: “Government officials only come here when there is a crisis or for votes. They never attend to issues affecting the population until it becomes a full-blown crisis.”

According to Charles Nuwagaba, a lecturer at Makerere University, half of the population in the slums in Kampala do not have access to toilets. “This”, Nuwagaba points out, “is a serious shortcoming given that about 60% of Kampala’s population lives in slums.”

Less than 10% of the two million residents of Kampala have toilets connected to the sewer line. The poor disposal of sewage has turned the Nakivubo waterway into an open sewer, which drains into Lake Victoria near Namuwongo.

To the National Environment Management Authority, the residents of Namuwongo are encroaching on the swamp. However, some of the encroachers have met their match in the floods and have had to vacate even before NEMA’s action to evict them.

“But this never lasts long. Other tenants keep on coming to rent the cheap houses in the dry season. The problem with Namuwongo is that the people who have constructed houses in the slums never stay there,” says Mutono.

The Government with the support of World Bank wanted to remove Namuwongo two decades ago, but it never happened. The owners of land sold it to their richer colleagues and the poor tenants crossed the Port Bell railway for cheaper housing deeper in the swampy settlement.


Mutono suggests technologies that can work better than the pit latrines as part of the way out. “Key to this is the exposure of women to new technologies such as ecological sanitation toilets that separate urine and faeces with an aim of making fertilisers,” says Mutono. “Once exposed, the women could teach many others. It could take a long time to accept such technologies, but women should be put at the centre.”

Mutono also recommends that NGOs with lessons on how to deal with sanitation in slums should be encouraged to share such knowledge. “As much as the Government tries to improve the situation, sanitation is a household responsibility,” says Mutono.

Mutono also says the landlords should be compelled to enforce the Public Health Act to create better sanitation conditions for people like Erika to lead better lives.

Source: New Vision / allAfrica.com, 20 Feb 2010.

Bangladesh: mobile toilets hit Dhaka’s streets

Bangladesh has ordered an emergency deployment of 100 mobile toilets in its capital to head off a worrying rise in public defecation, Dhaka’s mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka said. With an official population of 12 million (unofficially 20 million), the city has only 48 public toilets – one for every quarter of a million residents.

“We have launched 100 mobile toilets, which will be carried around manually on tricycle vans. They will be strategically placed so that people don’t have to use road corners to answer the call of nature,” he said.

The tin-sided mobile toilets are plastered with colourful advertisements including quotes from a famous Bangla poem which tells people: “Let’s do good work, no matter where you were born.”

They also carry posters urging people not to treat streets and open spaces as public toilets.

The mobile toilets will charge five taka (3.5 US dollar cents) for people to defecate and two taka to urinate, and are now available for 12 hours a day — between 8am and 8pm.

Dhaka’s chief city planner, Sirajul Islam, said the authorities had adopted the mobile toilet plan after failing to identify sufficient plots of vacant city-centre land on which to build permanent public toilets.

“The situation has become so bad on some roads that you cannot walk there. This is spreading disease,” he said.

Source: AFP, 26 Jan 2010

Afghanistan, Kabul: toilet tribulations

For Kabul’s estimated population of 4-5 million there are only 35 public toilets, according to the municipal authorities.

“We need at least 65 extra public latrines in Kabul immediately,” Nesar Ahmad Habibi, head of Kabul’s waste management authority, told IRIN, adding that the lack of government action and limited resources had prevented the construction of sufficient public toilets in the city.

“We have even sent proposals to the president’s office but to no avail,” he said.

Many people are forced to defecate and urinate in the open: “It’s not that we don’t want to use a latrine, it’s because there is no latrine,” said Arifullah, a local man.

“If you have a pain in your stomach and there is no toilet how long can you wait?” asked another man.

Only five of the 35 public toilets have facilities for the disabled – well below what is needed given the large number of disabled people resulting from three decades of turmoil.

People who use the latrines have to pay a small fee to cover maintenance and cleaning – 5-10 Afghanis [10-20 US cents], a sum that the large number of extremely poor people in the city would prefer to avoid paying.

A rapidly growing population, lack of modern sewage systems, significant waste management problems and the lack of public toilets in Kabul are causing environmental and health risks, according to experts.

No soap

“I don’t use the latrines because they are extremely dirty,” said Abdul Jamil, a young man. “There is also no soap to wash your hands.”

None of Kabul’s public toilets provide soap or hand-drying facilities.

Whilst hand-washing is crucial for disease prevention, soap is also not available in toilets in most Kabul schools, officials in the Ministry of Education said.

“Inappropriate latrines, open defecation and poor waste management cause serious diseases and damage the environment,” Hassan al-Sayed, country director of the French NGO Solidarités, told IRIN.

Waste management

In September 2008 Kabul Municipality said that up to 90 percent of the 3,000 tons of solid waste produced in the capital every day was managed and dealt with.

However, officials say waste management capacities have deteriorated sharply in the past year: “Now we collect only about 50 percent of the solid waste produced in Kabul on a daily basis,” said Habibi, citing dwindling resources, staff reductions and broken-down trucks as major problems.

“For waste management in Kabul we need 17,500 staff but we have only 3,000; and we need 2,500 trucks but we only have 119.”

Rapid population growth and unregulated housing developments have created serious social and environmental challenges in Kabul, according to government officials.

Al-Sayed, whose organization has been helping households in Kabul to build hygienic latrines, emphasized the importance of public awareness about sanitation and hygiene.

“What if there are hundreds of safe latrines but people don’t use them,” he said, adding that people should know the risks of open defecation and unsafe latrines.

Only 12 percent of Afghans have access to improved sanitation and less than 25 percent have access to safe drinking water, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Most Afghans use the traditional dry vault toilet systems which were ranked the worst toilets in the world by WaterAid’s State of the World’s Toilets 2007 report.

Source: IRIN, 16 Nov 2009

Nepal, Kathmandu: public toilets – few and fetid

Shital Rai, a Bachelors’ Level student, was walking near the Old Bus Park beside Tundikhel when she had to answer the nature’s call. But when she reached the sole public toilet near the City Market inside the bus park premises, she nearly suffocated on the fetid smell. Her only option was to enter a restaurant where she had to pay Rs. 30 for a cup of coffee – and a chance to relieve herself.

“The caretakers charge Rs. 3 per person, but they hardly ever clean the toilet and its surroundings. Are the concerned authorities sleeping?” asks Rai. There are 36 public restrooms to cater to Kathmandu district’s over 2.5 million-strong population. A recent study by Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO) shows that 45-140 males and 12-30 females use a public latrine in a day. But 18 percent of these latrines have no water supply, 65 percent have no hand-washing facility, while 10 percent are cleaned just once a day. Most of them have no proper ventilation and lack special provisions for the disabled and children.

These restrooms are managed both privately and by the municipality. But no one monitors these toilets. Ram Gurung, caretaker of a toilet under Sky Bridge near Sundhara said, “We have been facing water shortage and pipe blockage since three months. But no one has come to attend to the problems.” Blaming the public, Gurung complained of breakage and stealing of metal taps, random spitting, vulgar pictures and rough language on the walls.

Rabin Shrestha, Chief of Environmental Management Department at the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) accepts negligence in monitoring public toilets for which he blames the country’s defunct political system. Shrestha said the City Service Center (CSC) programme had helped most of the toilets improve their hygiene standards. Three toilets have been constructed, one each at Chabahil, Bhotahiti and Khulla Manch. With the CSC programme, public toilets have seen lots of improvements including addition of bathing. But more needs to be done.

Source: Jenee Rai, Kathmandu Post / NGO Forum, 10 Sep 2009

Nepal, Kathmandu: lack of public toilets big problem for communters

Besides the public transport mayhem, the shortage of public rest rooms has become the single biggest problem for commuters in the capital Kathmandu.

Geeta Gautam, a first year student of Green Tara College of Health Science, usually avoids drinking water before leaving the house. The reason? Finding an appropriate public rest room to empty her bladder is next to impossible. “Until it starts to get into my head, I don’t go to the public rest room,” says Gautam. But when she does, she faces the inevitable unpleasant smell and conditions of the rest room, often leaving her nauseated.

A street vendor begging anonymity, reports, “How can a person like me, who has to save every single penny to run my household, pay Rs. 3 just to pee! Given no other option, he does his business behind the bushes or discreetly in an alley. In such, drinking water never comes to mind unless he is dehydrated.

Cutting back on water intake or holding back on urination because there are no clean and affordable public toilets nearby, can in both cases cause health problems, like kidney failure and urinary tract infections, respectively.

There are only 33 public rest rooms (including those in business complexes such as Bishal Bazaar) to cater to the Kathmandu Valley’s 3,000,000-strong population. Even these latrines contain no facilities for children and physically-challenged. Two restrooms in Kuleshwor and Boudha are out of order, while places such as Durbar Marg and Thamel, two of Kathmandu’s biggest tourist hubs, have no public restrooms at all.

[…] The Kathmandu Muncipal Council (KMC) is not entirely to blame. ‘As there are no free spaces available in busy areas such as Putalisadak, building restrooms is impossible. To make such places more people-friendly we are in the pipeline to install mobile restrooms,” says Chief of Environment Management Department at KMC Rabin Man Shrestha.

[…] A recent study conducted by the Green Youth Network, an informal network of environmental science students, on eleven different public restrooms (excluding mall and mobile restrooms), show 90% of public rest rooms operated under the KMC are cleaned three times a day. The general public consistently lists “no proper sanitation measures used in the public lavatory” among its top concerns.
But, according to research, 18% of public rest rooms in the Valley do not have a water supply and 55% use tainted water. Only 45% provide soap.

[…] Beside the low priority given by the government to public rest rooms, the public plays its part in adding to deteriorating conditions of such common property. Complaints on how irresponsible the public is when it comes to public rest rooms come from operators and caretakers. Users not paying the charge, dumping rubbish in the pans, thereby blocking toilet function, and spitting wherever they like tops their list of grievances.

The same research shows that the number of men who visit public rest rooms is higher than women. An average of 12-38 women visit the public lavatory per day compared with 45-140 men. The reason for this may be the lack of women-friendly rest rooms in the Valley. Male and female rest rooms usually have the same entrance, doors have holes and lack proper ventilation.

A busiest public rest room in Ratnapark has several non-functioning doors in the ladies’ rest rooms and also lack proper flush systems. Ajay Deuja, a money collector in this rest room wears a facemask to avoid the foul smell. “The rest room is much cleaner than it is used to be couple of years back,” says Deuja.
To ensure proper function and sanitation management, the KMC sends staff to public rest rooms for thorough examinations, according to Rabin Man Shrestha. Some rest rooms are also leased to private sectors or individuals as it has been found that leased public latrines are better managed in terms of sanitation and hygiene. “A public restroom is much cleaner in places like the one in Ratnapark, which has other services such as hair-cutting salons and juice shops,” says Shrestha.

Rest rooms in some shopping centers, such as Kathmandu Mall, are a haven for shoppers as they are comparatively cleaner and women-friendly. The newest addition is the mobile rest room which has people thronging in it and is currently installed in Basantapur Durbar Square. But there have been complaints of its odd location.

In addition to the above complaints is the high charge to use the public rest rooms. Public rest rooms charge Rs. 3 to urinate and Rs. 5 to excrete. However, Rabin Man Shrestha claims the situation to be different. “The official rate for public comfort rooms is Rs. 2 and Rs. 3 respectively, according to the nature of use,” adds Shrestha. “Recently a warning notice has been circulated to one of the rest rooms near Ratnapark which allegedly charged more than the actual rate.”

Source: Republica / NGO Forum, 26 Jun 2009

Nepal, Kathmandu: Mobile toilets – Convenient and eco-friendly

[T]he Kathmandu Solid Waste Management Service (KSWM) has initiated a mobile public toilet programme. It installed its very first mobile toilet in Kathmandu at Basantpur Durbar Square almost two weeks ago. Resembling a big van, this green structure is currently kept at the southern side of the nine-storied temple. It, however, can be moved and set up at any required space. It occupies an area of nearly 144 square feet.

Basu Upreti, executive director of KSWM said, “Nearly 800 people are using the mobile toilet daily since we installed it. It’s our effort to address a rather real problem that people are facing.” One has to pay Rs. 3 and Rs. 2 to use the toilet.

The mobile toilet apart from being convenient is eco-friendly as well. There are different tanks to collect urine and stool. Each tank has a capacity of 500 litres and fills up in two days. At present the collected urine and stool is taken to a treatment plant at the Kathmandu Metropolitan City. The waste is treated to destroy harmful contents and the residue, which is no longer harmful, is discarded. However, KSWM plans to recycle the waste in the future. According to Upreti, the urine will be used for making compost manure, and faeces to produce biogas. The organisation is in search of land for this project.

Further, the organisation also wants to reduce water consumption and is encouraging people to use toilet paper instead of water. “Since most of the people are not accustomed to using toilet paper, we provide a litre of water per person. A total of 300 litres of water is consumed daily,” said Upreti. Aware of the water scarcity, the water used for washing hands is reused for flushing.

Made from local technology developed by the Balaju Yantrasala and KSWM, its manufacturing cost is nearly Rs 10 lakh. KSWM is planning to extend service to nine more places within 10 months. A mobile toilet had also been set up by KSWM in Tundikhel during the recently held 5th National Games.

While Kathmandu has just received its first mobile public toilet, the Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan city has had a mobile toilet at Gwarko Chowk since six months. The urine and stool collected are used for producing biogas at the sub-metropolitan office. “It had been set up at Patan Durbar Square before it was moved to Gwarko as locals started complaining about the smell. Six-hundred people are using the service at Gwarko daily,” said Pradeep Amatya, Environment Engineer at Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan. They also have plans to extend this service in other locations in Lalitpur.

Source: The Himalayan Times/ NGO Forum, 1 May 2009

India: the sanitation war triggers social crisis

IT IS early morning. The long queues near the Okhla Subzi Mandi [New Delhi] may give you the impression that some foodstuff is being distributed for the poor labourers. But […] the labourers are in the queue for their early morning ablutions.

Those who cannot withstand the pressure, rush to the open pavement on the other side of the road. It also saves them Rs 2 that they need to pay before using the latrines.

“When we cannot wait only then we go to the pavement (for defecating),” said Mohammad Rafiq, who works as a labourer in a fruit shop in the Mandi. Raju Ita, a water-seller blames the ‘Bihari’ labourers for dirtying pavements in the early mornings and late evenings.

There are more than 500 labourers in the Okhla Subzi Mandi region. The two sanitation facilities available in the region have around 20 latrines each. But the long queues early in the morning in front of the toilets and the pavement that is full of human excreta indicates that the facility is not enough.

The ‘public conveniences’ on the other side of the road just outside the Subzi Mandi have been out of use for a long time. Omveer Singh, the sanitation inspector of the area, denies that any such toilet even exists.


One out of every two persons compelled to defecate in the open is an Indian. In India, over 700 million people defecate in the open — along roadsides, on farmland, in municipal parks and so on.

Source: Dipu Shaw, Merinews, 10 Oct 2008