Are pit latrines in urban areas of Sub-Saharan Africa performing? A review of usage, filling, insects and odour nuisances

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Background: A pit latrine is the most basic form of improved sanitation which is currently used by a number of people around the globe. In spite of the wide spread use, known successes and advantages associated with pit latrines, they have received little attention in form of research and development. This review focuses on the usage and performance (filling, smell and insect nuisance) of pit latrines in urban areas of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and proposes approaches for their improvements and sustainability. Methods: Current pit latrine usage within urban SSA was calculated from Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) water and sanitation country-files. We conducted a literature search and review of documents on pit latrine usage, filling, smell and insect nuisances in urban areas of SSA. Findings of the review are presented and discussed in this paper. Results and Discussion: Pit latrines are in use by more than half the urban population in SSA and especially among low income earners. An additional 36 million people in urban areas of SSA have adopted the pit latrine since 2007. However, their performance is unsatisfactory. Available literature shows that contributions have been made to address shortfalls related to pit latrine use in terms of science and technological innovations. However, further research is still needed. Conclusion: Any technology and process management innovations to pit latrines should involve scientifically guided approaches. In addition, development, dissemination and enforcement of minimum pit latrine design standards are important while the importance of hygienic latrines should also be emphasized.




Nakagiri, A., Niwagaba, C. B., Nyenje, P. M., Kulabako, R. N., Tumuhairwe, J. B., & Kansiime, F. (2016, February 4). Are pit latrines in urban areas of Sub-Saharan Africa performing? A review of usage, filling, insects and odour nuisances. BMC Public Health. BioMed Central Ltd.

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