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  • Richard

Sitting or Squatting - Libuyu & Lusaka, Zambia

Visiting households and their toilets, constructed and delivered as part of the Devolution Trust Fund’s Libuyu Sanitation Project in Livingstone. Successful pre-fabrication, quick construction (one or two days a householder reported) and an affordable charge to the household: $100 being reported as opposed to the approx. $1,000 the mason individually built prototypes are costing for Lusaka Mtendere households. No information yet as to what the prefabs cost the project.

Note the squat type toilet which also enables a shower to be installed in the same unit (pipe can just be seen on the outside of the unit …. though disconnected in this one). Household surveys in Lusaka showed that although present sanitation in Mtendere was overwhelmingly pit latrines with squat holes, willingness to pay was only for pedestal/sitting toilets. Which therefore meant a shower had to be in an additional room, all adding to the cost. And a presumption that it will lead to later problems for some users in not being able to clear their bowels so easily, the body being designed to defecate in a squatting position.

LWSC colleagues also reported that their experience of squat plate design toilets also leads to much more sand and grit entering into the sewer, coming off people’s feet and easily washed into the trap. I was recommending the squat plate and shower to minimise costs in both sanitaryware and rooms and to have the benefit of the shower water to keep the toilet cleaner. Pedestal toilets are also prone to misuse and breakage.

All the new NGO built prototype toilets for the project in Mtendere have pedestals.

But we found one existing (school staff) toilet which seemed to have found a way to combine the two approaches, that is with platform ‘footrests’ on either side of the pedestal which seemed to allow (I tried) for sitting or squatting, as the user prefers. Though note that there is no toilet seat, as appears usual for pedestal toilets in practice in such settings, being so easily damaged and relatively expensive to replace.

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