arrow_backEmergency WASH

Indicator 2.1: People have access to sanitation facilities that are adequately located respecting distances from surface or groundwater sources and with user interfaces based on user-centered designs.

Key Actions

  • Involve users before, during and after the design to ensure a user-centered approach i.e. the SaniTweaks or a similar approach. 
  • Incorporate the following specifications in the toilet design: 
    • Minimum 1 toilet per 20 people. 
    • Distance between dwelling and shared toilet is maximum 50 meters. 
    • Distance between toilet and water sources at least 30 meters.
      This distance is not relevant when the containment (pit or tank) is fully lined without a supernatant overflow. 
  • Consult representative stakeholders about the siting, design and implementation of any shared or communal toilets. 
    • Consider access and use by gender, age, disability, minority groups, people with HIV, people with incontinence or any other people with specific needs. 
    • Locate communal toilets close enough to households to enable safe access, yet distant enough so that households are not stigmatised by proximity to toilets. 
    • Distance between bottom of pits, infiltration trench, soak pits or leach fields and water table at least 1,5 meter. Increase distance for fissured rocks and limestone, Distance between bottom of pits, infiltration trench, soak pits or leach fields and water table at least 1.5 meter. Increase distance for fissured rocks and limestone. 
    • Septic tanks fitted with an outlet should discharge to a soak pit, leach field or piped sewer and never to an open drain. 
    • Toilet superstructure needs to prevent the intrusion of rainwater, stormwater runoff, animals and insects. 
    • Toilet slab and pan or pedestal should be constructed using durable material that can be easily cleaned. 
    • Ensure that handwashing facilities are included, including water and soap (or an alternative such as ash) after using toilets. 
    • Ensure enough water, toilet paper or other anal cleansing material is available. Consult users about the most appropriate cleansing material and ensure safe disposal and sustainability of supply. 
  • Toilets should include appropriate containers for the disposal of menstrual hygiene materials in order to prevent blockages of sewerage pipes or difficulties in desludging pits or septic tanks. Consult with women and girls on the design of toilets to provide space, access to water for washing, and drying areas. 
  • Shared toilets should provide safety and privacy with lockable doors, sex segregation and lighting. 
  • A sufficient number of toilets should be equipped with adequate facilities for people with specific needs and should be sufficiently large for users with limited mobility. 
  • A small number of toilets should not contain sex segregation to ensure safe access for the trans community and to allow care-takers to assist children, elderly or people with specific needs. 
  • Ensure that toilets are well maintained and regularly cleaned, limiting bad smell and flies. Ensure that people have the information, means, tools and materials to clean, repair and maintain their toilets. 
  • Ensure that people have the information, means, tools and materials to dispose of children’s and babies’ faeces safely. 
  • Identify if a need exists for the desludging, transport and treatment of faecal sludge or if the on-site sanitation facility by itself can be considered as a safe sanitation system. If the following conditions apply, an on-site sanitation facility like a pit latrine or septic tank (without the emptying, transport and off-site treatment of faecal sludge) is considered a safe sanitation systems. These conditions generally apply in rural contexts. An on-site sanitation facility like a pit latrine or septic tank is considered safe sanitation system if: 
    • The groundwater level is more than 1.5 meter deeper than the bottom of the pit or the bottom of the infiltration trench, soak pit or leach field. 
    • The pit or septic tank of the toilet does not need to be fully lined, because the distance between toilet and water sources is at least 30 meters. 
    • The containment (the pit or septic tank) does not need to be fully lined and an supernatant overflow is acceptable, as the toilet location does not have a flood risk. 
    • Each household has its own toilet, resulting in a slow fill-up rate as it is used by few people. 
    • There is sufficient space available to dig new containments (pits or tanks) once the existing ones fill up. It is advisable to construct superstructures and slabs that are reusable on a new pit or tank. 
    • People have the information, means, tools and materials to safely fill and decommission used used containments (like pits or tanks). It is adviced to plant a tree on top of a decomissioned pit or tank. 
  • If above conditions do not apply and toilets are not connected to a sewer and wastewater treatment plant, plan for appropriate Faecal Sludge Management (FSM). FSM refers to the emptying of onsite sanitation systems like pits or septic tanks, and the transport, treatment and reuse or disposal of faecal sludge. This is generally the case in: 
    • Urban contexts 
    • Refugee and IDP contexts with many users per toilet 
    • Contexts with high groundwater tables or flood risks 
  • Where FSM is required, ensure the following aspects are added to the toilet design. 
    • Containment (like pits or tanks) need to allow for safe desludging, i.e. pits or septic tanks location must ensure access and the design must ensure that hoses and tools can reach the bottom of the pit to fully remove all liquids, solids and debris, without increasing the risk of damage or collapse. This means pits and tanks should be lined. 
    • In situations with a high groundwater table or flood risks, groundwater contamination must be minimized. Especially when the groundwater is used as a drinking water source. This can be done through elevated toilets, containerized toilets or fully lined pits to contain excreta. 
  • All sanitation interventions should include a robust sanitation promotion/ behavior change programme (including monitoring and evaluation), with all stakeholders and participants aligned around the same set of objectives and strategies. To influence behaviour through succesful hygiene promotion, it is important to understand the existing sanitation behaviors and the determinants of those behaviors, noting that specific population groups will have different sanitation needs, opportunities for change and barriers
    to improvement. 


Guidance Note

The indicators below only apply in those cases where Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) is required. See indicator 2.1 for guidance on the decision if FSM is required or not. If FSM is required, connection needs to be made with local service providers and operational sanitation service chains, if they are present. These operational sanitation service providers need to be supported in meeting minimal standards, if this is not the case. If FSM is required, the FSM needs of the host community should also be considered. 

In cases where FSM is required, it is not acceptable to construct toilets without giving due care and consideration to the safe disposal of faecal sludge on the long-term. In cases where FSM is required, the
whole sanitation service chain already needs to be considered in the emergency phase, even if fully functional sanitation service chains/FSM cannot be implemented directly. E.g. space needs to be reserved for a treatment plant from the very beginning before the entire area is settled. In cases where FSM is required, immediate efforts to provide sanitation services are vital to avoid outbreaks of disease. However, these early efforts risk becoming medium to long term public health and environmental hazards if the management of the accumulated faecal sludge is not considered.