New practitioner voices story: Rising groundwater and collapsing latrines in Gulu, Uganda

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  • HAPitot
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Re: New practitioner voices story: Rising groundwater and collapsing latrines in Gulu, Uganda

Hello Alisa,

This is an interesting statement since, as you are mentioning, ecological sanitation has very much fallen out of favor with donors.  The problem is more with the minds of donors than with actual facts on the ground.  I used to work in Moroto myself, but it's in Adjumani, North of Gulu, where we were quite successful with promoting ecological sanitation.  See, for example:
www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/sets/72157630727680876
www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/sets/72157631160051774
www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/sets/72157648589254468
Part of the problem is that changing people's habits and behavior takes time, while donors want to see results within a predefined time frame.  I am looking forward to hearing more about your projects in Moroto.

Kind regards,
H-A
Hanns-Andre Pitot
M.Eng. Environmental Pollution Control
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Re: New practitioner voices story: Rising groundwater and collapsing latrines in Gulu, Uganda

Hi Alice,

Thank you for sharing. This is a common problem in many parts of Northern Uganda. GiveLove has worked with WelthungerHilfe in Moroto and the surrounding Karamoja region to install dry compost toilets (aka CBS) for 23 schools because of loose and collapsing soils. We plan on documenting our experiences implementing the project in 2023. Due to the Covid pandemic the schools closed for a very long time right as the project was being scaled up from temporary pilot systems. Schools were closed again early because of the Ebola precautions. We've been trying to find a sustainable solutions for these hard-to-serve contexts since 2016.

Many donors do not consider trying container-based sanitation in these contexts, but we feel the approach is quite promising if the right training team is in place to lead the project. 

Warm regards,

Alisa Keesey

Director, GiveLove
Program Director, GiveLove.org — EcoSan Training Program
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Re: New practitioner voices story: Rising groundwater and collapsing latrines in Gulu, Uganda

Hello All,

I am reminded of Hann's definition of 'draining a toilet' a term used in Uganda, Kenya and other countries surrounding the region.

What I recall from a visit to the capital Kampala, is that the latrines can be lined or not either way draining can be possible. The practice is exactly as the term dictates. It involves puncturing a hole at the side of the latrine to empty its content into a hole dug next to the pit, or in some cases for lined pits (usually built on hilly land), a block (or two) is removed from the side of the latrine and the sludge flows freely downhill or into the community drainage system. The practice is common during the rainy season to aid the process. 

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Re: New practitioner voices story: Rising groundwater and collapsing latrines in Gulu, Uganda

Hello Paresh,

I have considered this term of 'draining a toilet' to be local Ugandan slang.  From what I understand, drainable latrines are just regular latrines that allow to be emptied and will not collapse when 'drained'.  So there is no bottom.  Otherwise they'd be called 'lined'.
Hanns-Andre Pitot
M.Eng. Environmental Pollution Control
presently in Seesen, Germany
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Re: New practitioner voices story: Rising groundwater and collapsing latrines in Gulu, Uganda

Thanks Alice for sharing another story from the ground. Really appreciate the opportunity SLH is providing for practitioners to voice their concerns and share them with the wider world. 

I came across a new term 'drainable toilets' from the post, and found what it means from here through a quick search

A drainable latrine is a pit latrine that can be emptied. The walls of the pit are lined with brick or cement and the pit is part-filled with water. A pipe leads from outside the latrine to inside the pit. A cesspit emptier can connect to this pipe to drain the waste. With a drainable latrine, it is important to only drop materials into the pit that can decompose. Other materials will block the pipe.

I am however not sure how they are different from holding tanks. Do such toilets have no bottom? 

Toilets and sanitation in flood-prone areas have been earlier discussed on the forum, pointing to a couple of threads that may be useful for the author and practitioners facing similar challenges.  
  1.  Manual for constructing latrines in flood-prone and high-groundwater locations (English and Khmer versions), Cambodia 
  2. Toilets for a flood-prone elementary school in the Philippines 
Could you also request the author to post their experiences in relevant threads on the forum.

Regards
paresh
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
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  • awebbslh
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New practitioner voices story: Rising groundwater and collapsing latrines in Gulu, Uganda

Hi everyone, 

We've just published our 4th practitioner voice story in our series on tough physical environments. 

In this story, Ceasar Onen describes how heavy rains have caused latrines to overflow and collapse in Gulu District, Uganda.

Read the story in full here:  sanitationlearninghub.org/connect-share-...ines-in-gulu-uganda/

Thanks and best wishes,

Alice
Alice Webb
Communications and Impact Officer
The Sanitation Learning Hub at the Institute of Development Studies

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