How small changes can make a big impact in achieving sustainable sanitation

Finalised bathroom block and water tank as a part of the Fb visitor blogger’s challenge to enhance conventional pit latrines in a distant neighborhood in Tanzania (Picture: copyright Laia Gemma García)

I spent a few months dwelling in a rural space of northern Tanzania, as a part of a scholar programme with a neighborhood architectural NGO. I lived with a neighborhood household, sharing their frequent areas; consuming collectively and naturally sharing communal services, most notably the lavatory.

On this village, as with many remoted areas of Tanzania, bathrooms are pit latrines that include three elements: an underground pit, a hand-made concrete slab with a drop gap and a shelter. The bathroom outhouses are often a minimal of 10 metres away from the primary buildings to forestall unhealthy smells reaching dwelling areas.

As somebody who had lived their whole life with a flushing bathroom, the change was, regardless of my greatest preparation, one thing of a tradition shock. After discussing the village’s sanitation with locals I began to look into plans to enhance their bathrooms. Whereas my preliminary thought was to work on a flushing bathroom, I quickly got here to know that, for the village, primary security and hygiene have been an even bigger precedence.

Understandably, there are appreciable challenges with enhancing bathroom services in an under-resourced neighborhood; I centered on essentially the most possible and inexpensive options to improve the standard pit latrines.

Conventional pit latrine below building in a rural neighborhood in Tanzania (Picture: copyright Laia Gemma García )

What do that you must have a correct bathroom?
As soon as I used to be again from Tanzania and as a part of my analysis, a workshop for structure and engineering college students was organised, the place proposals on find out how to ship higher sanitation services have been drafted. College students have been requested to consider the fundamental priorities for lavatory services – most agreed on flushing bathrooms, pure lighting, comfy bathroom dimensions and working water.

Against this, when the identical query was put to the villagers throughout a participatory exercise led by a neighborhood NGO, they recognized primary well being and security wants – reminiscent of the scale of the slab gap being sufficiently small to forestall accidents, and techniques to keep away from the bathroom door rotting when it got here in touch with urine and water.

The locals’ issues revealed a transparent distrust of efforts to enhance bathroom situations. They assumed that bathrooms are innately unsafe and unhygienic.

Pit latrine bathroom: an improved prototype
The analysis’s predominant goal was to seek out options that have been straightforward and accessible for all, bearing in mind native situations. In 2018, we designed a public bathroom block adjoining to a well being centre with the intention of constructing a prototype that could possibly be simply replicated by villagers on their personal plots.

All the block was constructed with compressed stabilised earth bricks produced on web site with native soil. Bamboo from the encompassing space was used to construct the bathroom ceilings.

The design of the improved bathroom block contains an exterior pit, which prevents the development of unstable concrete slabs. There are various advantages of transferring the pit away from the bathroom flooring – it avoids direct contact with human waste, lowering the unfold of illnesses, and a separate air flow pipe from the pit prevents entry of bugs and flies.

Moreover, the development of the squat bathroom features a entice pipe which additional prevents smells or bugs getting into the bathroom. To make sure the continual provide of water for flushing and hand washing, the bathroom features a masonry water tank that collects rainfall water from the bathroom roof. 

This analysis challenge made clear that conventional pit latrine will be improved considerably with out appreciable extra prices, and by utilizing native supplies and workforces.

By attending creatively to the small particulars, this challenge promoted dignified bathrooms which can be secure, hygienic, fascinating and simple to copy.

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