Unfortunately, fecal contamination is found in a larger proportion of available water sources when communities do not have latrines. Just having access to latrines and promoting hygienic behaviors can save lives.
In 2017 the World Health Organization reported that 2.3 billion people still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines. Of these, 892 million still defecate in the open, for example behind bushes or into open bodies of water.
Food is often irrigated by wastewater, people drink from the same water sources where animals and humans defecate and the result is that people die daily from preventable diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid, and cholera.
Poor sanitation is linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio.
Dry Latrine Technology
Safe disposal of excreta, so that it does not contaminate the environment, water, food or hands, is essential for ensuring a healthy environment and for protecting personal health. This can be accomplished in many ways, some requiring water, others requiring little or none. Regardless of method, the safe disposal of human feces is one of the principal ways of breaking the fecal-oral disease transmission cycle. Sanitation is, therefore, a critical barrier to disease transmission.
Dry latrines, also known as the “ecological” or “fertilizer-making”, latrine, are a cleaner and safer alternative to the conventional pit latrine in rainy zones and areas with high water tables.
The latrine has a specially-designed concrete seat which separates the urine from the hazardous feces. The harmless urine can filter through the ground while the feces are maintained in a water-tight compartment above the ground. Dirt and/or ashes thrown in after each use eliminates flies and odors and eventually killing the harmful microorganisms. After six months, the feces are completely harmless and can be removed and used as fertilizer for grasses, fruit trees, or other agricultural needs.
CHOICE teaches a village how to build a dry latrine, which is usually constructed together with several holes in the ground and different levels of catchments to drain out the urine and catch the solid feces. While one hole is decomposing the villagers are taught to cap off the seat and use another hole. Later when the feces are done decomposing, the villagers are taught how to convert it into fertilizer and how to excrete the fertilizer and use it for farming.
CHOICE has a history of successfully introducing this important technology in our work areas both in Mexico and in Guatemala. Please see photo and diagram below to understand more how these latrines are designed and constructed.
This video describes this simple yet critical technology especially as it relates to a developing world environment.
CHOICE Kenya has a Community-led Total Sanitation Program. They realize that merely providing toilets does not guarantee their use, nor result in improved sanitation and hygiene. Because they have focused on the education and behavioral change needed to ensure real and sustainable improvements, they have invested in community mobilization instead of hardware and shifted the focus from toilet construction for individual households to the creation of “open defecation-free” villages.
As part of this program, they have over 127 elders and village healthcare workers trained as educators. They also have 103 pit latrines that are being used.