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close this bookA Guide to the Development of on-site Sanitation (WHO; 1992; 246 pages)
View the documentPreface
open this folder and view contentsPart I. Foundations of sanitary practice
close this folderPart II. Detailed design, construction, operation and maintenance
open this folder and view contentsChapter 5. Technical factors affecting excreta disposal
close this folderChapter 6. Operation and maintenance of on-site sanitation
View the documentPit latrines
View the documentSimple pit latrines
View the documentVentilated pit latrines
View the documentVentilated double-pit latrines
View the documentPour-flush latrines
View the documentOffset pour-flush latrines
View the documentDouble-pit offset pour-flush latrines
View the documentRaised pit latrines
View the documentBorehole latrines
View the documentSeptic tanks
View the documentAqua-privies
View the documentDisposal of effluent from septic tanks and aqua-privies
View the documentComposting latrines
View the documentMultiple latrines
View the documentOther latrines
open this folder and view contentsChapter 7. Components and construction of latrines
open this folder and view contentsChapter. 8 Design examples
open this folder and view contentsPart III. Planning and development of on-site sanitation projects
View the documentReferences
View the documentSelected further reading
View the documentGlossary of terms used in this book
View the documentAnnex 1. Reuse of excreta
View the documentAnnex 2. Sullage
View the documentAnnex 3. Reviewers
View the documentSelected WHO publications of related interest
View the documentBack Cover

Simple pit latrines

The simple pit latrine (Fig. 6.3) consists of a hole in the ground (which may be wholly or partially lined) covered by a squatting slab or seat where the user defecates. The defecation hole may be provided with a cover or plug to prevent the entrance of flies or egress of odour while the pit is not being used.

The cover slab is commonly surrounded by some form of superstructure that provides shelter and privacy for the user. The superstructure design is irrelevant to the operation of the latrine but crucial to the acceptability of the latrine to the user. Superstructures range from a simple shelter of sacks or sticks to a building of bricks or blocks costing more than the rest of the latrine. The choice of superstructure will reflect the income and customs of the user.

Fig. 6.3. Simple pit latrine


WHO 91422

The cover slab should be raised at least 150 mm above the surrounding ground to divert surface water away from the pit. Commonly, the cover slab sits directly on the lining, but if the lining is made of very thin material, such as an old oil drum, a concrete foundation beam may be necessary to distribute the load of the slab to the lining and surrounding ground (Fig. 6.4).

Fig. 6.4. Ring beam on top of a thin pit lining to support the cover slab


WHO 91423

The simple pit latrine is the cheapest form of sanitation possible. Once constructed it requires very little attention other than keeping the latrine area clean and ensuring that the hole cover is in place when the latrine is not in use. Unfortunately the superstructure frequently becomes infested with flies and mosquitos and full of pungent odours because users do not replace the squat hole cover after use. Self-closing hole covers have been tried but are often disliked because the cover rests against the user's back. There may also be resistance to constructing new simple pit latrines because of their resemblance to existing, badly constructed, pit latrines.

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