Imagine being killed by falling into a pit latrine - what a horrible death!

  • muench
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Imagine being killed by falling into a pit latrine - what a horrible death!

Dear all,
I am in Kampala (Uganda) this week. What a beautiful country and lovely people!

Today I read an article in the local newspaper with the headline:

Pupil dies in school pit latrine

It was just a "normal" article and I bet it happens quite often here (I have heard such stories before). Isn't it terrible that the toilet, which was meant to provide hygienic living conditions, has killed a child? Imagine having been the worker or maybe NGO or even donor who once built or financed this very pit latrine.
To me it is just such a horrible thought to die in a pit latrine!!
(I read that in the Rwanda genocide, pit latrines were also often used to kill people in a slow and horrible death).

Pit latrines can be a good thing and have their place, I really don't want to demonise them or put them down. But personally, I am happier to promote the UDDTs whereever possible (urine diversion dehydration toilets, commonly called "ecosan toilets") - at least there is no way you can kill a child with one of them! If they were to fall into the chamber, it would only be 1 m and it is filled with dry material, so no way you could drown or anything like that.

Does anyone else want to share something about children being killed by falling into pit latrines? Have you heard about this before?






Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • sunder.s
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Re: Imagine being killed by falling into a pit latrine - what a horrible death!

Terrible stuff, this. Am not sure if I've seen other instances of children falling into toilet pits, but in India, we've had many instances of children falling into uncapped/open bore wells and in most cases, losing their lives. I also have conscious memories from my childhood days (from 35-40 years ago), of being terrified of pit toilets -- the family used to put in an annual visit to our ancestral village in the Thrissur district of Kerala. The toilets were away from the main house. a good couple of hundred years away, located in a bamboo grove. I remember hanging on to a rung on the inside of the toilet door for fear of falling into the pit. :(

The fact that the darn bamboo would rattle and crate weird (and in my mind then, spooky) noises at the slightest hint of a breeze didn't make matters any better!! :P

cheers,

Sunder

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  • kirsikkapynnonen
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Re: Imagine being killed by falling into a pit latrine - what a horrible death!

Oh, that's horrible :( I have to admit that using pit latrines was a scary experience for me too, when I experienced it for the first time now in Kenya (especially in some camp sites and during the night time)... So I can imagine that for small kids, who actually could drop in the hole, that must be terrifying, especially if you know that your class mate has died when falling in a pit. I also heard that during rain seasons pit latrines can collapse as the soil gets soft. And some school kids (this was in Nyanza province / Kenya) have been traumatized because of this kind of occasions.

Kirsikka
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  • Doreen
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Re: Imagine being killed by falling into a pit latrine - what a horrible death!

Dear All,

Collapsing pit latrines unfortunately also seem to be the norm in low income urban areas in Kenya. Whilst conducting interviews in Ongata Rongai in plot level households, one tenant informed me that their toilet has collapsed quite a number of times and was on the verge of collapsing anytime. Infact, the last time it did collapse, a man fell inside the pit!

Everyone was so relieved that it was not a child who went into the pit latrine as he/she would not have survived.
Below is a picture of the superstructure and inside of the toilet. See how much space is in between the wood.



If one accidently misses his/her step,especially at night, they could immediately fall in!



It’s the saddest and scariest thing to be afraid of using your own toilet. You can just imagine how scared the children in the plot are!

Best regards

Doreen

Doreen Mbalo

GIZ Sustainable Sanitation Programme
Advisor
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
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  • bayeboah
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Re: Imagine being killed by falling into a pit latrine - what a horrible death!

Dear All,

As horrific as this sound, the fact still remains that many people living poor settlements have to live through this experience on the daily bases. As a young boy growing up somewhere in poor urban Ghana, I had to use some of these “death-trap” toilets at some point. I dreaded the experience because I was always scared of falling into the pit. Are we not supposed to relax and do the thing? ;) :) I decided to opt for open defecation instead because that it was “fall-free” and not as scary as the pit latrine.

In my case, I used an alternative which is not “better” but i had to use it. I must say that this case resonates all over in poor areas and the earlier alternatives are provided the better. The challenges with pit latrines and other water loos are too much to handle especially in developing countries. In finding a better alternative, the dry toilet (UDDT) as suggested by Elisabeth is in pole-position with extra benefits. Its high-time these issues are pushed at the policy level to ensure implementation to prevent unnecessary loss of lives especially children.

Regards

Bismark
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  • joeturner
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Re: Imagine being killed by falling into a pit latrine - what a horrible death!

Sorry to dig up this old thread, but I saw this article in the Guardian:

www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/30/ch...e-toilet-septic-tank

Two people died trying to retrieve their mobile phones from a latrine.

It made me wonder how many people and children die from physically falling into sanitation interventions. I wonder if anyone is keeping numbers.
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