Tag Archives: pit latrines

Bike-powered poop pump is redefining low-cost sanitation

A bike-powered poop pump is redefining low-cost sanitation, April 2011, by Robert Goodier, Engineering for Change.

Meet the next generation of bicycle-powered devices for developing countries: a pit latrine pump. It’s the offspring of locally available parts—a bucket, a hose, a bicycle—and a modified bike-powered corn sheller, which is itself a field-tested time saver. The pump is still in testing, But so far, it seems to represent the kind of inventiveness and repurposing of parts needed to achieve extreme affordability. The brains behind it are a team of MIT engineers and business students who formed Sanergy, an organization working to redefine low-cost sanitation.

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Kenya, Kibera: “slum survivor” Patrick Mburu still emptying pit latrines to keep his kid in school

Pit latrine emptying in Kibera. Photo: KWAHO

Four years after news agency IRIN released its award-winning documentary film “Slum Survivors”, its makers returned to the Kenyan slum of Kibera to see what had happened to the main characters.

One of the most striking sequences of the film showed Patrick Mburu emptying pit latrine toilets in the dead of night. He did not much care for the job but the money was good and as he put it at the time, “I’ll carry as much shit as it takes to keep my kid in school.”

Four years later Patrick is still emptying toilets and his kid is still in school – and doing quite well by all accounts.

See below the section of “Slum Survivors” that follows Patrick at work at night emptying shared latrines [segment starts at 1.50].

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Household pit latrines and child health in rural Ethiopia

Does ‘improved’ sanitation make children healthier? Household pit latrines and child health in rural Ethiopia, February 2009. (pdf, 352KB)

Lita Cameron. Young Lives, Department of International Development, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3TB, UK

In response to pressure to reach the Millennium Development Goal of improved sanitation access, the  E thiopian government has developed an ambitious plan to achieve 100 per cent access to pit latrines by 2012. The plans to achieve this target rely upon the assumption that universal access to pit latrines will lead to improved health outcomes. Using the Young Lives pro-poor longitudinal data of Ethiopian children, this research uses propensity score matching to test this assumption.

Children who experienced a change from no toilet to a household pit latrine between rounds of data collection were compared to those who continue to use a forest/field. The findings show that there is no significant difference between groups in terms of health outcomes and that a pit latrine does not necessarily signal improved methods of waste disposal.

Individual and group interviews conducted by Young Lives suggest that poor infrastructure and care for pit latrines deter children from using such facilities and promote a preference for the use of other methods of waste disposal. Policy makers should note that simply increasing access to pit latrines will not necessarily promote better health outcomes, especially when ‘improved’ sanitation appears to be less clean than other available options.

Uganda: “Flying toilets” still not grounded

The lack of adequate sanitation facilities in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, has led to increased use of polythene bags – known as “flying toilets” – for human waste disposal, local officials said.

The situation is worse in slums where infrastructure is basic. The few private and public facilities that exist charge up to USh200 [US10 cents] per use of a toilet.

“These areas are characterized by poor drainage systems and in the rainy season, the problem becomes worse,” said Bernard Luyiga, a councillor in Kampala district. “We have not invested enough in this area.

“Water and sanitation in Kivulu [slum in Makerere area, which he represents on the city council] are among the worst I have come across in my life. We tried to use Eco-san toilets… but the ‘flying toilet’ has remained rampant.”

Eco-san toilets use a natural biological process to break down human waste into a dehydrated, odourless, compost-like material, and save on water use. They were developed in South Africa in the 1990s.

It is difficult to tell how many facilities exist in Kivulu, but several pits latrines were visible, with dilapidated rusty iron sheets for walls, cracked floors and plastic roofs.

Contaminated springs

The situation is similar in other slums. About 6.2 percent of households in the city have no toilet facilities at all. Most, according to chief health inspector Mohammed Kirumira, are in the slums.

“Human waste is a problem to reckon with and many households lack a toilet, bathroom or kitchen,” Kirumira told IRIN.

According to the city council: “One study conducted by Chemiphar estimated that up to 90 percent of the natural springs in Kampala are contaminated, especially in the wet season, yet this remains a major source of water for the urban slum dwellers.”

Agatha Nambi, whose house stands near a drainage stream formed by an overflowing pit latrine in Kivulu, said: “It is very difficult to keep clean here. You observe cleanliness in your home, but other people just bring their mess to you and you have to give up… that is why our children keep getting sick.”

Justus Namenya, a casual labourer living nearby, added: “This is the rainy season, so this place is unbearable. [It] becomes filthy and sometimes water flows up to your house with all the dirt in it.”

Inadequate water

Only about 65 percent of Kampala’s two million residents have access to clean water. The rest use water that is sometimes contaminated by pit latrines.

According to Uganda’s Lands, Housing and Urban Development Ministry, the high cost of piped water has forced some city dwellers to rely on springs and wells.

“Over 50 percent of household occupants in Kampala are hospitalised every three months due to malaria while contamination of water by prevalence of micro-organisms is evident in the water sources of the city,” it said in a paper.

A recent survey by the Catholic Church’s Justice and Peace Centre found that average toilet to household ratio in Kampala slums was about 1:25.

“The children are told to use the school toilets so that when they come back home, they do not ask for money to go to the toilet,” the survey report, The plight of the urban poor and yet increased rural-urban migration, noted.

“Poor sanitation accounts for cholera outbreaks that are usually experienced in the slums of Kampala.”

Urban poverty

According to UN-HABITAT, 44 percent of Kampala’s population live in unplanned, underserviced slums. Informal settlements cover up to 25 percent of the city’s total area.

In informal settlements, only 17 percent of the population can access piped water. According to UN-HABITAT: “There is a high prevalence of sanitation-related diseases such as diarrhoea, worm infestations. Malaria is also endemic.”

Some 92.7 percent of Kampala’s population, the African Development Bank found, used on-site sanitation systems including septic tanks and pit latrines. However, emptier services, which are offered mainly by private sector on a cash-on-demand basis, were inadequate.

“As a result, effluent from latrines and septic tanks is often discharged into the environment untreated,” it added.

Government response

Uganda’s State Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Michael Kafabusa Werikhe, said the government was determined to address the appalling sanitation in the city.

Kampala authorities are trying to roll out a new sewage system by 2014, financed by the European Union, German government, African Development Bank and Ugandan government.

“Uganda is targeting to uplift the lives of at least one million people by the year 2020 through implementing the slum upgrading strategy and action plan,” Werikhe told IRIN on 7 January.

“We believe that slums are a development challenge which must be addressed to create harmony in our societies,” he added.

Source: IRIN, 08 Jan 2010

Uganda: toilet dispute ends in murder

Police in Eastern Uganda are holding a 38-year-old farmer in connection with the murder of his cousin following a dispute about the construction of a pit latrine.

Rogers Wepukhulu of Wabagayi village, Sibanga sub-county, allegedly hit Moses Wabuyi, a primary school teacher in Kayunga district, with a metal bar after a disagreement.

Wabuyi reportedly wanted to construct a pit-latrine at his home.

However, Wepukhulu refused the Fuso lorry truck delivering the bricks for the construction to pass through his garden.

Wabuyi forced his way through the garden and proceeded to report the matter to Sibanga Police Post.

When Wepukhulu learnt that Wabuyi had reported the matter to the Police, he hit him with a metal bar, killing him instantly.

Wabuyi’s relatives attacked Wepukhulu’s home and threatened to burn down his houses and kill his animals.

The Police are guarding the home to prevent any attack.

Eastern region Police spokesman Iddi Ssenkumbi said the suspects will be charged with murder.

Source: Moses Bikala, New Vision / allAfrica.com, 30 Dec 2009

Sudan, Khartoum: UNMIS supports sanitation improvement in leprosy colony

Leader of the community Abakr Abdallah, inspecting the newly constructed toilets. Photo: UNMIS

Leader of the community Abakr Abdallah, inspecting the newly constructed toilets. Photo: UNMIS

The lives of some 120 people affected by leprosy and other disease living in Mayo area in the outskirts of Khartoum are improved by the construction of 10 pit latrines that aim to provide much needed health and hygiene access. [On 16 June 2009] the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and partners from the Leprosy Mission of Sudan and the State Ministry of Health inaugurated the sanitation project, the first one of its kind, since the affected population moved first to the area.

The new latrines of $23,000 cost, were funded by UNMIS through its Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) unit, and were constructed in little over a month’s time. “Over the years things have substantially improved for those living in the area. Homes were built, a water pump was put in and now with the help of UNMIS, 10 toilets have been added to the improvements”, UNMIS Military Chief of Staff, Col. Oivind Christensen said during the opening ceremony.

Source: UNMIS, 16 Jun 2009

Uganda, Kamuli District: sanitation campaign succeeds in raising latrine coverage

The pit-latrine coverage in Kamuli district has increased from 46% to 76% in the past two years, the district health department [Alex Mulindwa] said […] Mulindwa said they launched a campaign to encourage people to construct pit-latrines in 2006.

He added that they used radios and patrols to mobilise the residents. The campaign was funded by the water department. Mulindwa said at the beginning of the campaign, some villages had no pit-latrines and residents would relieve themselves in the bushes.

“Bulungu village in Namwendwa sub-county had no pit-latrine and the residents had turned anthills into latrines,” Mulindwa noted. The district health educator, David Mbadhwe, said the district council passed a resolution under which a punishment of six months jail term was imposed on those who did not have pit-latrines. Mulindwa said they targeted having pit-latrine coverage of 90% by 2010.

Source: Tom Gwebayanga, New Vision / allAfrica.com, 18 May 2009