Think twice before building UDDTs with steep stairs!?

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  • Elisabeth
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Think twice before building UDDTs with steep stairs!?

Dear all,

I used to think nothing when I saw a school toilet or a household UDDT which had steep stairs. Since the beginning of the year, I have come to realise that stairs can be a real problem for many people. Not only for wheelchair users but also for the elderly, people with crutches, people helping young children, highly pregnant women, people with injuries etc.

The number of people with disabilities worlwide is actually much higher than I ever thought (latest estimates: 15% of the global population!!). Amongst the poorest people in urban slums, this proportion is likely to be even higher, as there is a viscious cycle between poverty and disability.

So why build new types of toilets which make it even harder for those people to access them, compared to pit latrines?

There is a good alternative to UDDTs with stairs out there and these are called the bench UDDTs (they are often cheaper as well). These are at least suitable for anyone who does not mind sitting on a toilet (rather than squatting) - which would be the case for many people with disabilities.

There are nowadays quite a few factsheets out there on inclusive sanitation (e.g. very good ones from WEDC in the UK). However, what irks me a little bit is that they only talk about how to adapt pit latrines. But we have a third alternative (apart from the well known pit latrines and flush toilets). This third alternative has the advantage that it can be indoors, or right next to the classroom if it is a school toilet. No need to walk to the far edge of the school yard, which might be dangerous and also difficult for people who have to use crutches or even drag themselves along. This alternative is the UDDT, and bench UDDT when stairs are to be avoided.

All these thoughts and aspects are summarised in a 4-page factsheet which we at GIZ recently published (intersectoral collaboration between our sanitation group and a group focussing on people with disabilities):
You can access it here (contact me if you want some hard copies on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.):
www.susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbktypeitem&type=2&id=1210

I would very much like to receive feedback from readers whether you find this factsheet useful or if it is too theoretical? Would it encourage you to do things differently in the future? Or are you already considering these aspects?
Do you have good and bad examples of sustainable sanitation for people with disabilities?
See also our photo collection on this topic (do you have good/bad photos to add?):
www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/collections/72157626218080958/

So next time when you see a UDDT with steep stairs and not even handrails, think of this posting and think of alternatives...
By the way, here you find some general examples of UDDTs for schools (but almost all of them with stairs!):
www.susana.org/lang-en/case-studies?show...s=5&vbl_5=22&vbl_0=0

Looking foward to reading from you,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Ulm, Germany
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @EvMuench
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  • canaday
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Re: Think twice before building UDDTs with steep stairs!?

Hi everyone,

Charles and I mentioned several advantages of benches in our paper on the UDDTs in Tisaleo in Sustainable Sanitation Practice.
www.ecosan.at/ssp/issue-06-toilets/issue-06-toilets

"The bench is 38cm high, or
whatever height is appropriate for the users, thus
being an advantage over pre-made pedestals.
Other advantages of a bench over a pedestal
include less internal soiling, better ventilation, no
hard-to-sweep area behind the toilet, and more
room for changing and storing sacks (underneath)."

Somewhere, maybe on Ecosanres, I have mentioned that benches are much better for handicapped people, since they may place their hands on any part of the bench for support while positioning themselves.

It is advantageous to build these benches with Ferrocement, which can be 3 cm thick, given the wire reinforcing within it, and it permits placing ceramic tiles immediately into the fresh concrete. This is also explained in the SSP article.

By the way, the Tisaleo UDDTs could have been one row of blocks lower, thus one less step to go up.

Benches also lend themselves more to being updated in the future (for example, with the new pedal-operated model Marcos Fioravanti and I are currently working on)

Best wishes,
Chris
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Think twice before building UDDTs with steep stairs!?

A reply from David Crosweller (Wherever the Need, UK), which he has allowed me to copy here:
++++++++++

From: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.] On Behalf Of David Crosweller
Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2011 11:20 AM
To: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Subject: EcoSanRes: Re: UDDTs with steep stairs

Elisabeth,

We have been considering UDDTs with a ramp rather than steps for some time. If you look at the last two photos here:

www.wherevertheneed.org.uk/projects/indi...bile-unit-cuddalore/

You will see two examples. There is an updated unit that is better yet and I will get a new photo uploaded next week.

Here is another example:

www.wherevertheneed.org.uk/projects/indi...ojects/kumudimoolai/

The problem is the steepness of the ramp, especially in the case of our mobile units. With static units you need more space. The answer of course is to dig the chambers into the soil and have a level entry into the UDDT, but that will increase costs.

WEDC have just come out with a new leaflet relating to schools:

sanitationupdates.files.wordpress.com/20...ool_latrines2011.pdf

I will let you know when the new photo is uploaded. We keep trying!


Best Regards,

David Crosweller

Wherever the Need

Limpley Mill
Lower Stoke
Bath, BA2 7FJ

p: +44 1225 723673
m: +44 7939 576504
f: +44 1225 723105

Registered Charity Number 1070826

www.wherevertheneed.org.uk
www.facebook.com/wtn.uk
www.twitter.com/wtnUK
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Ulm, Germany
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Think twice before building UDDTs with steep stairs!?

Dear David,

Thanks for your reply.
The photo with the ramp which you have on your website shows, however, that a wheelchair use could not use it (how can they open the door when they are at the top landing?). And with the other photo which you sent me by e-mail, there is not even a landing at the top?
Or are they not meant for wheelchair users but just in general for people with walking difficulties?

Have you considered trying the bench UDDTs – as they don’t even need a ramp at all. (see: www.susana.org/library?search=rotaria only in Spanish but with lots of photos and drawings).

Yes, I saw that new factsheet from WEDC. It is nice and very informative, but my criticisms include:
• Only pit latrines are considered
• The distance of the toilets to the class room is therefore long! At least 15 m.
• And the photos (of pit latrines with a concrete seat on top) do not look very attractive to me.

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Ulm, Germany
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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  • Elisabeth
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  • I'm passionate about SuSanA's role in the WASH sector since about 2005. I'm a freelance consultant since 2012 (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
  • Posts: 3354
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  • Likes received: 914

Re: Mozambique and Burkina Faso examples

A reply on this topic by Madeleine Fogde (with her permission I copy it here):

++++++++
Hi Elisabeth & all

When we introduced UDDT technology in Buzi in Mozambique some years ago (2001-02) we wanted respected and responsible members in community to have a UDDT toilet and those toilets would serve as demostration toilets as well a social marketing tool.
If a respected member had and could make benefit of a UDDT other community members would desire to have something similar...

These people were indicated by the community and many of them were elderly people.
Thus we decided to construct ramps instead of stairs the cost difference was negligible at that time and the toilets were very appreciated. I have picture somewhere and I will dig into the photos to find it.

Last year I visite Burkina Faso with Linus we also visited a UDDT specially constructed for an old man with problems to move arround. And here I do have a picture - see below.

Cheers
Madeleine
+++++++++

(the Mozambique project which she mentioned has an updated SuSanA case study here:
www.susana.org/lang-en/case-studies?view...peitem&type=2&id=940 )
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Ulm, Germany
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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