When I moved into my house, I had a magical dream of building a Peace Corps standard pit latrine, yeyyey PVC pipe and all. It was to be the volunteer example for future latrine projects in the community, and everyone would be interested! I even chose to attend our Sanitation IST (In-Service Training) to get more hyped about all things latrines. I should’ve know that my dream would not go according to plan. After my cement latrine plancha broke and my 6′ pit filled with water, I knew I had to find another spoolution.
During IST I also learned more about composting latrines and arborloos. One day, I would love to construct a composting latrine, but I need a plan in the meantime. So I took the route of the arborloo. The idea is to dig a shallow hole (2-3′) so as to not hit the water table. The hole is covered by an arborloo plancha, which forms a dome to prevent rainwater from entering. A small drainage is dug around the hole so runoff doesn’t become an issue. You fill the hole up with your waste and wood shavings, so it breaks down little by little. Once the hole is nearly filled, you top it off with dirt from the next hole you make. Then you plant a tree!:)
Some people create latrine structures around their arborloo, made from wood, bamboo, tarps, palm fronds or other materials. They should be portable structures, to be easily moved from one hole to the next. With this method, it feels just like a bigger pit latrine. Since I lack the materials for making a portable casita, I decided to create a Poo Bucket Baño.
I first learned about poo buckets during PST (Pre-Service Training), and was taken aback. I thought “owh man that is kinda gross…I never want to do that”. This is the same thought I had about pit latrines in general when I used one for the first time in Tanzania 2008. I didn’t even use one while living with my host family, which in hindsight I definitely should’ve. I have grown to like my Poo Bucket Baño, equipped with a toilet seat atop a 5 gallon cubo. In addition to picturesque water scenes on the wall, I installed a book shelf and poperie of mulling spices. The space is hidden in a corner by a thatched matt, but still receives good light. After each ‘release’, wood shavings are thrown atop the heap. This prevents any unwelcome smell and helps the poo break down. A can of Febreze is on hand just in case though! It is emptied into the pit once or twice a week, and a new pit is dug once or twice a month.
Hopefully within the next year I can create my new latrine dream: a ferrocement composting outdoor latrine. I am sure it will be the new ‘volunteer model’ and ‘biggest hit’ among community members ;). This time I will try to keep my expectations low incase it too doesn’t work out. In the meantime, I’ll keep using my Poo Bucket Baño!