Survey of household experience with specially built flooded environment latrines

  • AndrewKoolhof
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Survey of household experience with specially built flooded environment latrines

Last year, as part of its Sanitation in Challenging Environments project in Cambodia, Engineers Without Borders (EWB – Aus) conducted a survey of households living in an area of Cambodia that is seasonally affected by severe flooding. The households have specially constructed flood-prone-area latrines that were built with the support of Malteser International in response to widespread cyclone damage. The survey aimed to collected information about the user experience and perceptions of the latrines & shelters, any technical issues that may have arisen since construction, and ongoing usage rates. Prior to the project in Siem Reap province, only one household in the village (which has over 100 households in total) had a latrine, and this was washed-out and unusable during times of flooding.

Key findings from the survey include that 89% of the latrines built were still in use 18+ months after construction, and that nearly all the households ‘liked’ having a latrine (even if it wasn’t currently in use). Overall households showed a clear liking for the ease of defecation that the toilet provided (as compared to having to travel into the fields or forest), while the health benefits of having a latrine was probably viewed as a secondary, not primary, benefit.

There was also a significant variation in the number of people using each of the latrines, as in some cases, after construction, additional neighbours and relatives started using the latrines once they became ‘familiar’ with them (one house had up to 10 additional users per day from outside the primary household). The main challenge mentioned by a third of households was the quantity of water consumed by the pour-flush latrines (all households were less than 150m away from a water source, however the elevated nature of the latrines made it difficult to carry the water up to the latrine). Many households indicated dissatisfaction with their current superstructure, which they had had to pay for and construct themselves, and showed a strong desire to improve this as the most important change to their latrine.

The full report with findings is attached.

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