Wet toilet options (pour flush latrines) for flood prone areas? Raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna in Pacific Island Countries, like Fiji?

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  • kdrakeford
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  • Recent MSc Water and Environmental Management graduate from WEDC at Loughborough University. Currently an intern with UN-Habitat and working on the Fiji Resilient Informal Settlements project.
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Wet toilet options (pour flush latrines) for flood prone areas? Raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna in Pacific Island Countries, like Fiji?

Hello,

I am wondering if anyone has any practical examples of wet toilet design options for flood prone areas? I am particularly interested if there is evidence of pour flush toilets to raised alternating lined pits which drain to a raised infiltration trench?

Thanks!
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  • paresh
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Re: Wet toilet options (pour flush latrines) for flood prone areas? Raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna in Pacific Island Countries, like Fiji?

Dear Katie,
I am no expert in toilet technology, but anything that needs draining water to the earth may become dysfunctional during the floods. I am sure experts in emergency sanitation will direct you to appropriate resources.

Till then, attached is a presentation by Megh Pyne Abhiyaan (MPA), an organisation that has championed implementation of UDDTs in flood prone regions of Bihar, India. It is also available here . Alternatives mentioned in the presentation include one with facility to drain ablution water. MPA calls it 'phaydemand sauchalaya' (profitable toilet in Hindi) to convey savings on health expenditure post floods. The presentation also includes images other experiments including mounting them on cycle and tractor trolleys to make them mobile to be deployed during the floods.

Hope this helps.

Regards
Paresh
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
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  • kdrakeford
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Re: Wet toilet options (pour flush latrines) for flood prone areas? Raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna in Pacific Island Countries, like Fiji?

Dear Paresh,

Thank you for this information.
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  • kdrakeford
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Re: Wet toilet options (pour flush latrines) for flood prone areas? Raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna in Pacific Island Countries, like Fiji?

Hi there,

I am looking for examples of successfully implemented raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna/Compost Toilets in Pacific Island Countries. While I can find plenty of literature on the suitability of these systems to PICs, I am finding it more difficult to find evidence of implementation and feedback on their sustainability.

Any help and information would be greatly appreciated!
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  • Armel
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Re: Wet toilet options (pour flush latrines) for flood prone areas? Raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna in Pacific Island Countries, like Fiji?

Hi Katie,  

Good question, and it is challenging, it can work but with very complex technology like vacuum sewers, which are used in some developed country context with flooded prone area or at least a very high water table. However, it requires a lot of technology, energy and maintenance which makes it unaffordable or inappropriate for most places in developing countries context. 

There is no easy option for the flood-prone areas and that's why we developed with Loowatt CBS services for those areas, flush toilets without water (but washers are welcome to use water, as we also developed the system in the Philippine ), and regular service, if you want to discuss more the technicality of such option, or other options for your challenge I am happy to have a discussion about it! you can contact me This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Bests, 

 
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Wet toilet options (pour flush latrines) for flood prone areas? Raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna in Pacific Island Countries, like Fiji?

Hi Katie,

I am curious to know why you are looking into this question in particular? Which area do you have in mind and what do people use there currently? I can't imagine that pit latrines can work sustainably in flood prone areas, it's probably just not the right technology for that application.

Your question reminded me of "raised pit latrines" I saw photos of in Lusaka and Kampala some years ago ( = more like "bad practice" photos). They raised the pit latrines them there either due to the difficulty in digging or to keep them usable during flooding. But it seems odd to have a raised pit latrine, as the very aim of a pit latrine is to let liquid infiltrate into the ground.

Here is a photo from Lusaka:

File Attachment:

Raised pit latrine in karst area in Lusaka by SuSanA Secretariat , on Flickr

And here is one from Kampala, Uganda:
File Attachment:

Typical Pit latrine in Kampala slums by SuSanA Secretariat , on Flickr

Here in Bangladesh the approach is to let excreta fall into the water beneath:

File Attachment:

Hanging latrine by SuSanA Secretariat , on Flickr

And I agree with what Paresh said above that you could look into UDDTs as a toilet option for flood prone areas like this one in Bangladesh (at least this is an option where the excreta does not come in contact with the flood water unless there are cracks in the concrete):

File Attachment:

UDDT withstanding Cyclone Aila 2009 by SuSanA Secretariat , on Flickr

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Elisabeth
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  • kdrakeford
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Re: Wet toilet options (pour flush latrines) for flood prone areas? Raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna in Pacific Island Countries, like Fiji?

Dear Elisabeth, 

Thank you for sharing this information. I am looking into this topic for a project that works with informal settlements in Fiji, many of which are located in coastal areas that flood daily at high tide or due to storm surge. Dry toilets are not normally used in Fiji and there have been many issues with the sustainability of compost toilets in the Pacific due to lack of correct O&M. Therefore, I am curious if there are any innovative wet systems that could still function in this type of environment. However, I understand your point about the need for effluent to infiltrate into the ground. Therefore, if this is not possible, it seems the only lost cost option would be a compost toilet, would you agree?

Kind regards,

Katie
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Wet toilet options (pour flush latrines) for flood prone areas? Raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna in Pacific Island Countries, like Fiji?

Hi Katie,

Before attempting to answer your question, I have three questions back for you:

1. What kind of toilets are people using there currently? Is it all just open defecation or have people found toilet solutions that work for them? What's the driver for change now?

2. In your mind, are dry toilets and composting toilets the same thing? My definition of dry toilets is summed up in the Wikipedia article:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_toilet

dry toilet (or non-flush toilet, no flush toilet or toilet without a flush) is a  toilet  that operates without flush water, unlike a  flush toilet . [1]  [...] A dry toilet can be any of the following types of toilets: a  composting toilet urine-diverting dry toilet arborloo container-based toilet bucket toilet , simple  pit latrine  (but not those that operate on a "pour flush" basis),  incinerating toilets , or  freezing toilets .

3. Are you looking for a solution that would be managed completely by the households themselves or could there be a service component by the local government, private providers, non-profit organisations or alike?

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Elisabeth
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  • kdrakeford
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Re: Wet toilet options (pour flush latrines) for flood prone areas? Raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna in Pacific Island Countries, like Fiji?

Dear Elisabeth, 

Thank you for your questions. 

1. Households are using pour-flush or flush toilet interfaces with old oil drums for collection and storage of excreta. However, as the latrines are located in muddy mangrove areas, which frequently flood, these oil drums often overflow. Open-defecation is not common in Fiji. The change is driven by the project and Government focus on the resilience of informal settlements to climate-related hazards. 

2. I am aware of other dry toilet options, however, compost toilets are the only option that could function appropriately in flood prone areas AND that are approved by the Ministry of Health. My focus on wet-toilet options is due to user preference. 

3. Ideally, systems would be managed at the household level. However, there are companies available to empty septic tanks, which could be explored. 

 I hope that answers your questions!

Best regards, 
Katie
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Wet toilet options (pour flush latrines) for flood prone areas? Raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna in Pacific Island Countries, like Fiji?

Hi Katie,
this seems to be a rather difficult problem to solve. - Do we have others in this forum with experience in Pacific Island Countries who can help?

How big are those oil drums and do they store all the liquids from the flush toilets or just the excreta, i.e. is the effluent percolating out? If not then the users either they use a very small amount of water for flushing or the drums must fill up really quickly?

You said users have a preference for wet toilet options: what does that mean specifically? Which aspects of the wet option do they appreciate? Is it the water seal in the U-bend and thus less odour? If so, I wonder if wet composting toilet options could be of interest, like those vermifilter toilets that were discussed here on the forum:  forum.susana.org/290-vermifilters-for-bl...ts-tiger-worm-toilet

And if composting toilets are approved under the Ministry of Health: what kind of composting toilets are they, and how common are they by now in the area that you work in? Do you have any photos? What have been the experiences with them?

Regards,
Elisabeth
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  • Ecowaters
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Re: Wet toilet options (pour flush latrines) for flood prone areas? Raised VIP latrines or Fossa Alterna in Pacific Island Countries, like Fiji?

Hello
We worked on three projects in Fiji and several others in the Micronesian islands, using different systems tailored to the settings.

For a resort, we created a system that used a micro-flush toilet flushing to a container retrofitted as a composter and integrated with a graywater system. This system can be used with a pour-flush, if necessary.

About the Megh Pyne Ahiyan photos (I know Eklavya Prasad): These are only raised super-structures. The receptacle for solids is either a vault or a small metal bin. These still are prone to floods, but are less likely to result in a spread of fecal coliform (except for the metal bin).
However, keeping the urine separate means the feces likely dried somewhat and pathogens deactivated.

Carol Steinfeld
Book writer, researcher, workshop presenter, eco-toilet vendor, market transformer

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