This is an archival version of the original KnowledgePoint website.

Interactive features have been disabled and some pages and links have been removed.

Visit the new KnowledgePoint website at


Revision history [back]

click to hide/show revision 1
initial version
Harriette Purchas gravatar image

Generally, toilet design should be based around composting solutions. The essential difference between these and latrines is that fecal matter is collected in a containment vessel rather than just allowed to collect in a pit and seep into the water table. Vessels can either be constructed of masonry or based on manufactured tanks or large bins - depending on what is available. This allows residues to be moved away from other WATSAN facilities and also for aerobic treatment before they are disposed of.

Composted waste (humanure) is a useful resource if well made and can help to recycle nutrients back into soil fertility. However, if the waste is coming from a health clinic you must be aware that there may be virus contamination of the waste. In a well designed latrine this will not be an issue as the viruses will have died before the pit is opened for emptying - assuming that the filled latrine pit is sealed for about 18 months to 2 years before final emptying. If that is how the system is designed you will of course need a second pit to be used whilst the first is sealed. You must also consider ensuring that no other medical waste is disposed of in the latrines, especially sharps which can be a major hazard if the waste is to be composted.

In terms of cost, I don't have any experience of costing in Tanzania so can't really comment.

The health facility will need to designate staff to maintain the latrines in a clean and safe condition and this should be established immediately. Again, I'd reiterate the need to educate staff on the need to ensure not medical waste is disposed of in the latrines.

Regards Harriette