The Fossa Alterna toilet has a number of advantages. COURTESY PHOTO

A lot of solid waste is disposed of in toilets which makes it difficult in emptying pits. But cesspool emptier are not able to deal with the solid waste which typically includes plastic bags, old clothes, sanitary pads, etc.  Such problems are prevalent with faecal sludge management in urban areas like Kampala.

Here are different toilet/latrineconstrction options you could explore away from the usual sanitation facilities.

The Arbor loo toilet

Also known as the ‘tree toilet’, The arbor loo toilet features an excavated pit with a ring beam on the mouth of the pit. A concrete slab sits atop the ring beam. The toilet has a movable superstructure that may be made from a timber/pole frame with a range of materials used for the walling including grass, papyrus or plywood. The ring beam, slab and superstructure are moved to another location when the pit gets full. The filled pit is covered with soil and dry leaves or grass, which forms compost. A tree may later be planted at that location and thus the name ‘tree toilet’ or arbor loo.

The Arbor loo toilet is credited by ease of construction, ease of maintenance, ease of emptying, affordability, portability, good space utilization, and suitability for both areas with rocky soil formations and a high water table.

Fossa Alterna

The Fossa Alterna was also illustrated. It was described as an alternating pit toilet. It shares several features with the Arbor Loo such as the ring beam, movable concrete slab and a movable superstructure. The difference is that for the Fossa Alterna, there are two permanent pits and when one is full, the superstructure is moved to the other. After a period of 6 months or more, compost is removed from the filled pit and used for soil conditioning to boost crop growth. The Fossa Alterna and Arbor loo are both suitable for rural farming communities.   The participants learnt that it was possible to upgrade the Foss Alterna to have a permanent brick wall enclosing the two pits, each with its own slab.

The Fossa Alterna toilet has a number of advantages such as; ease of construction, suitability for small spaces, affordability, and adaptation to locally available materials, can be adapted to collapsible soils and reuse of faecal waste as compost.

Pour Flush Latrine

The pour flush latrine was also introduced as an option that is suitable for rural growth centers and other urban areas, particularly where piped water supply is available. The pour flush may use as little as 2 litres of water per flush and that a U-bend within the plumbing components of the pour flush latrine when filled with water acts as a water seal. This keeps the superstructure odour -free and therefore gives the pour flush latrine a superior user experience in contrast with other latrines. Since the pit is usually offset, the pour flush latrine may also be part of the house rather than at a distance from the house, as is required for other types of latrines. It is also possible to make adjustments to upgrade the toilet, such as connection to a soak away pit to make this a full flush toilet.

It is possible to have the offset one but also to have a version where the superstructure is directly above the pit. The latter is useful if a household desires to upgrade from a VIP latrine to a pour flush latrine. A ceramic Luxor pan may then replace the squat hole.

The pour flush latrine has the following advantages; doesn’t require large plot of land, small quantities of water are used, odourless and inexpensive.

It uses a small amount of water to flush faeces from a collection pan into a pit, has a water seal that effectively keeps the superstructure free from odour and flies. Users also have a heightened sense of safety using the offset pour flush latrine since it is not over the pit and therefore there is no danger of accidentally falling into the pit.  The fact that users do not see into the pit also gives them a more pleasant experience.

Furthermore, the toilets may be located inside the house; toilets are easier to access for pit-emptying and the slab over the pit need not to be as elaborate and costly as if it were directly over the pit.

Ventilated Pit Latrine (VIP) Toilet

Air flow is key for the VIP toilet. Wind over the top of the ventilated pipe causes the air to rise within the pipe, while replacement fresh air is drawn into the pit through the superstructure. This continuous air flow keeps the superstructure free of odour. The flow of air is possible if the toilet squat hole is left permanently open.  It therefore is incorrect to cover the squat hole of a VIP toilet with a cover, the same way it is done with a traditional pit latrine.

A pit latrine with a SaTo pan installed by Sanitation Solutions Group.

The top of the vent pipe should be unobstructed to allow for air flow and should be at least 0.5m above any nearby buildings. The top of the pipe should be covered with a fly screen. This keeps any flies that may enter the pit from leaving. The darkness of the interior of the superstructure is a key feature of VIP toilets that causes flies to find their way into the ventilated pipe to get trapped as they are attracted to the light through the vent pipe. The fact that the vent pipe should be straight was also emphasized.


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