Pit latrine

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Terms & Synonyms

Official WHO Definition

Latrine with a pit for accumulation and decomposition of excrete and from which liquid infiltrates into the surrounding soil (WHO 1992). A pit latrine is usually a dry system and the most basic form of disposal for human defecation. It consists of a hole in the ground with a floor plate placed over the top (World Plumbing Council Working Group 2008).

Other Definitions

Contents

Interpretations and Explanations

Traditional pit latrines usually consist of a single pit covered by a slab with a drop hole and a superstructure. The slab may be made of wood (sometimes covered with mud) or reinforced concrete. The superstructure provides shelter and privacy for the user.  Basic improvements include a hygienic self-draining floor made of smooth, durable material and with raised foot rests; a tight-fitting lid that covers the drop hole, to reduce smells and keep insects out of the pit; a floor raised above ground level to prevent flooding; an adequately lined pit, to prevent the pit collapsing (e.g. when the soil is unstable); and an adequate foundation, to prevent damage of the slab and superstructure (WHO 2003).If a latrine is a dry pit it will not penetrate the water table.  If the pit is wet, then the water table is at risk ( World Plumbing Council Working Group 2008).  It is recognised that although not ideal, a pit latrine allows for safer and more hygienic disposal of human waste than open defecation (World Plumbing Council Working Group 2008).A pit latrine is not suitable where there are high population densities (World Plumbing Council Working Group 2008).

References

WHO (1992)A Guide to the Development of On-Site SanitationWHO (2003)  Linking Technology Choice with Operation and Maintenance in the Context of Community Water Supply and Sanitation: A reference document for planners and project staff

WHO (2002)  Healthy Villages : A guide for communities and community health workersWHO (2002)  Sanitation: Controlling problems at source

WHO Lexicon page (translations and examples)


See also

External Resources

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