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UD Toilets and Composting Toilets in Emergency Settings (Draft)

UD Toilets and Composting Toilets in Emergency Settings (Draft)

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Published by Oxfam
The approach of Ecological Sanitation (Ecosan) in emergency settings breaks with conventional excreta disposal options such as pit latrines or pour-flush toilets. Traditionally, Ecosan systems re-use both faeces and urine, turning them into either a soil conditioner or a fertilizer. This not only benefits peoples’ health through safe excreta disposal and by reducing environmental contamination, but also implies re-using the by-products for some form of agricultural activity. This Technical Brief looks at the criteria for selecting Urine Diversion (UD) and Composting Toilets options in an emergency setting, including the construction, operation and maintenance of such units.
The approach of Ecological Sanitation (Ecosan) in emergency settings breaks with conventional excreta disposal options such as pit latrines or pour-flush toilets. Traditionally, Ecosan systems re-use both faeces and urine, turning them into either a soil conditioner or a fertilizer. This not only benefits peoples’ health through safe excreta disposal and by reducing environmental contamination, but also implies re-using the by-products for some form of agricultural activity. This Technical Brief looks at the criteria for selecting Urine Diversion (UD) and Composting Toilets options in an emergency setting, including the construction, operation and maintenance of such units.

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Published by: Oxfam on Apr 12, 2011
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OXFAM GB – TBN 7 (Draft v4, 05-05-09)
UD Toilets and Composting Toilets inEmergency Settings
This Technical Brief looks at the criteria for selecting Urine Diversion (UD) and Composting Toilets options inan emergency setting, including the construction, operation and maintenance of such units
Ecological Sanitation orSustainable Sanitation?
The approach of Ecological Sanitation (Ecosan) inemergency settings breaks with conventional excretadisposal options such as pit latrines or pour-flush toilets.Traditionally, Ecosan systems re-use both faeces andurine, turning them into either a soil conditioner or afertilizer. This not only benefits peoples’ health throughsafe excreta disposal and by reducing environmentalcontamination, but also implies re-using the by-productsfor some form of agricultural activity.In an emergency setting, the choice of ecosan options isvery often driven by factors other than the re-use of allor part of the by-products. Ecosan toilets are very oftenbetter suited to rocky ground or areas with high watertables, making them more resistant to cyclic flooding forinstance. Unlike pit latrines, they can be used for manyyears, making them a much more attractive option interms of sustainability. They do however require morecareful operation and maintenance than a pit latrine or apour-flush toilet. Saving water may be another key factorin selecting ecosan units.
Key Concepts in EcologicalSanitation
Ecological latrines can be broadly divided into two maincategories:1. Dehydrating urine diversion (UD) toilets2. Composting toilets
Urine diversion (UD) toilets
These are commonly used to separate human urine atsource before it mixes with the faeces. This means urineand faeces can be handled separately and in a specificmanner. Separation is achieved through speciallydesigned toilets and urinals, UD toilets, which areconnected to a collection system and then to either astorage container or a soak away. Urine diversion toiletscome in many forms; seated pedestals; squatting plates;and separate urinals for men, making them easy to adaptto local cultural norms. One advantage of separatingurine from faeces is to reduce potential odours as well asprolonging latrine life.Urine separation toilets are commonly used inconjunction with an alternating double vault system,which is used to store and dry the faeces over a specifiedperiod. Normally, it is recommended to store faeces for aminimum of 12-months in one vault before emptying.Adding a desiccating material such as ash or sawdust willaccelerate the faeces drying process. Typically, in a well-managed ecosan unit, storage times of greater than 3-months will reduce many pathogens to safe levels, inparticular those responsible for Ameobiasis, Giardiasis,Hepatitis A, Hookworm, Whipworm, Threadworm,Rotavirus, Cholera, Escherichia coli, and Typhoidamongst others. Ascaris is more persistent though, andmay require retention times of 12-months or more.
Fig 1:
UD Squatting plate 
Fig 2:
UD Pedestal unit 
Composting toilets
The simplest and best-known composting toilet is the“Arborloo”. This toilet uses an unlined shallow pit (1 – 1.5metre deep), fitted with a ring beam, slab and portablesuperstructure. As the pit is used, soil, ash and leavescan be added to the pit to keep fresh faeces covered.When the pit is nearly full, a new pit is dug close by, andthe ring beam, slab and superstructure are moved to thenew site. The old pit is then covered with soil, allowingcontents to compost down. When fully composted, a tree(typically a fruit tree) is planted. The advantage of the“Arborloo” system is that latrines are typically low-cost,and can be built from locally available materials. The“Arborloo” also avoids the need to handle the “compost”,making it a very simple and safe way to recycle nutrients.
OXFAM Technical Brief – Eco San Latrine Construction
1
 
OXFAM GB – TBN 7 (Draft v4, 05-05-09)
Fig 3:
An “Arborloo” system in use 
Maintenance and Hand washing
People were trained to use latrines properly and towash hands after use. A kit containing soap, brush,bucket and baby potty and a small shovel weredistributed to the latrine users.
Sustainability
 The design is adapted to the local context:
-
The latrine is above ground level, helping to stopsurface water entering the pit, and can resistfloods < 15 cm deep.
-
All materials are re-usable. The slab can bemoved to another site when the pit is full, or incase of severe flooding. The rim masonry can bere-used. The wooden frame and the metallic roof can also be re-used in a new latrine.
-
People understood that even with mud, stonesand local material it is possible to construct asimple latrine. Neighbours or people from nearbycommunities, who have the means, can easilyreproduce the model.
Lesson learned
The post-flood intervention promoted a simple solutionthat people can easily replicate, resulting in increasedlatrine coverage to 80% of the target population. The‘’Arborloo’’ design requires only local material andemphasises the message “anybody in the communitycan build his/her own latrine”. The design is simple,affordable, easy to maintain and doesn’t need to beemptied when full.
 Maintenance and Hand washing
People were trained to use latrines properly and towash hands after use. A kit containing soap, brush,bucket and baby potty and a small shovel weredistributed to the latrine users.
Sustainability
 The design is adapted to the local context:
-
The latrine is above ground level, helping tosurface water entering the pit, and canst floods < 15 cm deep.materials are re-usable. Tstopresi
-
All he slab can bemoved to another site when the pit is full, or incase of severe flooding. The rim masonry canbe re-used. The wooden frame and the metallicroof can also be re-used in a new latrine.
-
People understood that even with mud, stonesand local material it is possible to construct asimple latrine. Neighbours or people fromnearby communities, who have the means, caneasily reproduce the model.
Lesson learned
The post-flood intervention promoted a simplesolution that people can easily replicate, resulting inincreased latrine coverage to 80% of the targetpopulation. The ‘’Arborloo’’ design requires only localmaterial and emphasises the message “anybody inthe community can build his/her own latrine”. Thedesign is simple, affordable, easy to maintain anddoesn’t need to be emptied when full.
 
The Use of Arborloos, Grande Saline, Haiti
The latrine uses a concrete slab. This was the mostexpensive part, and is designed to be moved from thepit in use to the newly dug one. The slab, frame androof were donations, due to cost, and can be expectedto be used for many years.
Construction - 4 Steps
1.
The beneficiaries dug their pits (90 cmdiameter & 2 m deep), with a communitysupervisor providing technical support as thecommunities were digging.
 
Fig 4:
An Arborloo under construction 
 
2. A local contractor, from the community,manufactured reinforced slabs (120x120cm)near the pits. A 30 x 40 cm masonry rim wasbuilt to prevent cave ins and surface waterinflows. The rim is made of stones and ‘poor’ concrete, but capable of supporting the slab’sweight. The stones and wooden frame can bereused for a new latrine at a later date.3. Beneficiaries were given responsibility tocomplete the superstructure using locallyavailable materials. Many people chose mudwalls (similar to local houses), but wovenpalm tree leaves were also used. Trainedcommunity volunteers supervised the work.
4.
When completed, the contractor installed themetallic roofing and finalised technicalaspects of the work.
Criteria for Selection
In an emergency setting, a number of factors must befully considered before deciding to introduce either UDtoilets or composting toilets, and it is recommended toadopt a programme process, based on solid assessmentsof the situation (
Excreta Disposal in Emergencies Manual 
). Consultation with the affected community is anessential part of this assessment process. However, anumber of parameters, specific to the choice of either UDor composting technology should also be considered.These include:
 
The physical constraints (rocky ground, sandysoils, high water table, flood plain, etc.) existingin the target community, which may makeecosan an attractive option?
Fully understanding the communities preferencesregarding excreta disposal practices and facilities
Understanding existing local knowledge andexperience in ecosan and local organisationsinvolved in promoting ecosan
Do the community intend to re-use any of theby-products and are there any strongly heldbeliefs or taboos on handling urine or faeces
Being aware of the availability and cost of UDhardware and the quality of that hardware
The availability of space, particularly for theArborloo system
Understanding the needs of men, women,children and those with special needs
OXFAM Technical Brief – Eco San Latrine Construction
2
 
OXFAM GB – TBN 7 (Draft v4, 05-05-09)
Using UD toilets in a 1
st
 phase response
The priority of 1
st
phase options is the speed of response,and it is essential that 1
st
phase technologies to containexcreta can be installed quickly. Normally, UD technologyis associated with 2
nd
phase responses, particularly inflood prone areas. However, novel solutions to rapid on-set floods have been tried and tested in Latin America.
Fig 6:
 
Management problems with used toilet paper 
In Bolivia, many people use toilet paper and throwused paper into a bin. If there’s no bin, people stillthrow the paper next to the toilet anyway. Quickly,this becomes a problem in a communal toilet.Encouraging people to throw their used paper intothe latrine would be one solution to improve toiletcleanliness.
Rio Beni Floods, Bolivia
In March 2008, an estimated 20,000 people fromareas surrounding Trinidad (Dept. Beni) moved ontoflood protection embankments surrounding the city.Shelters were set-up; with water & sanitation issuesquickly became problematic. The embankments werecrowded and open defecation was rife, the groundwas waterlogged, and shelters occupied all of theempty space. Most importantly, there was noelevation, so impossible to dig down.The units installed on the embankments were set upclose to those displaced, and came from a localauthority contingency stock (from 2007 floods).
Fig 5:
 
UD Communal Toilet, Bolivia 
 
The UD design itself is innovative, as it can be set up
 
quickly, and separates urine from faeces. Urine isdrained to a container, while the faeces are collectedin a 200-litre drum lined with a bin liner. The localauthorities are then responsible for collecting thefaeces filled bags on a daily basis. Bags are thendisposed of at a landfill after collection by truck.Separating the faeces from the urine facilitates thehandling of the two human waste streams. Thecollection & disposal system does work, butexperiences from Bolivia highlighted the localauthorities need to provide a reliable O&M service. Theawareness of users also needs to be raised,particularly in relation to good hygienic practices.
Construction of UD toilets in2
nd
phase of a response
The easiest way to construct an UD toilet is to build itabove ground. This makes it easier to both contain andto remove contents when desiccated. The impermeablebottom of chamber prevents contamination of the soiland ground water. Commonly, above ground vaultstructures have twin chambers, with one chamber beingused while the faeces in the other chamber break downinto dry compost. Enough space must be left at the topof the chambers in order to install the hose or pipingrequired to collect the urine, and to take it from the urineseparation bowl to either a storage container or aspecially designed urine soak away.Careful attention must also be paid to the ergonomicsand design of the superstructure, as the inappropriateselection of materials may result in a latrine being overlyhot or cold, and being seen climbing up steps to enterthe latrine may discourage use. Good latrine siting istherefore a prerequisite to successful implementation.
Community Dialogue
The requirements of men, women, young people,children, those with special needs and disabilities inrelation to Eco San toilet will be different. In consultingwith the community it will be important the men andwomen are both consulted and their needs andrequirements identified. For example, women havingmonthly bleeding may safely use ecological toilets.
OXFAM Technical Brief – Eco San Latrine Construction
3

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