S.2 Borehole Latrine

Borehole Latrines are mainly provided in the acute response phase, when a large number of latrines are required quickly and the site conditions do not allow for the excavation of bigger pits. A borehole driller is the main requirement for implementation.

Borehole Latrines are usually temporary solutions but depending on diameter, depths and number of users they can also be considered a longer-term solution with a potential life span of several years. The hole is bored using either a mechanical or manual auger or a drilling machine.

Design Considerations

Depending on the soil type and drilling equipment the borehole should be between 5 to 10 m deep with a diameter of usually between 0.3 to 0.5m. A pipe lining is required at the top 0.5 m and may be greater in length in more unstable soil formations. The superstructure can either be simple screens around the hole (as a temporary solution) or more solid cubicles. As it is not possible to easily ventilate the borehole, the superstructure should allow for air circulation to reduce potential odour problems. The hole should be covered with a slab or pedestal. The lifespan (the time required to fill the borehole to within half a metre of the top) is a function of the borehole volume, divided by the number of users and estimated excreta volume generated per person. On average, solids accumulate at a rate of 3–5 L/person/ month and up to 5–7.5 L/person/month if dry cleansing materials are used. Special attention should be paid to the expected groundwater level and the associated risks of groundwater pollution as well as the topography, ground conditions and soil permeability. Poorly permeable soil will increase the rate at which the borehole fills.

Consists of urine and faeces that are not mixed with any flushwater. Excreta is relatively small in volume, but concentrated in both nutrients and pathogens. Depending on the characteristics of the faeces and the urine content, it can have a soft or runny consistency.Refers to (semi-solid) excrement that is not mixed with urine or water. Depending on diet, each person produces approximately 50–150 L per year of faecal matter of which about 80 % is water and the remaining solid fraction is mostly composed of organic material. Of the total essential plant nutrients excreted by the human body, faeces contain around 39 % of the phosphorus (P), 26 % of the potassium (K) and 12 % of the nitrogen (N). Faeces also contain the vast majority of the pathogens excreted by the body, as well as energy and carbon rich, fibrous material.The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.Water that is located beneath the earth’s surface.
Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.The above ground walls and roof built around a toilet or bathing facility to provide privacy and protection to the user.
User interface used for urination and defecation. The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18

Materials

To construct a Borehole Latrine a manual or mechanical auger or a drilling machine is the main requirement. The user interface can be made out of wood, bamboo, concrete or prefabricated plastic. For the superstructure, materials should be used that are readily available and that can be applied rapidly (e.g. bamboo, grass matting, cloth, wood, plastic or metal sheeting). For the borehole lining, a pipe should be used, with a minimum length of 0.5 m and corresponding to the borehole diameter. Some relief agencies have rapid response kits for slabs and superstructure which can be used where there are few resources locally.

Describes the type of toilet, pedestal, pan, or urinal that the user comes into contact with; it is the way users access the sanitation system. In many cases, the choice of user interface will depend on the availability of water and user preferences. Additionally, handwashing facilities have been included here with a dedicated technology information sheet as a constant reminder that each sanitation user interface needs to be equipped with handwashing facilities for optimal hygiene outcomes.A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

The above ground walls and roof built around a toilet or bathing facility to provide privacy and protection to the user.
User interface used for urination and defecation. Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Applicability

A Borehole Latrine can be implemented quickly and therefore is considered an appropriate solution in the acute response phase provided the technology is acceptable to the users, the ground conditions allow for the drilling of deep holes and there are sufficient tools, materials and human resources available. The soil needs to be stable and free of rock, gravel and boulders.

Operation and Maintenance

General operation and maintenance (O & M) measures include routine tasks such as checking the availability of water to ensure personal hygiene, of soap and dry cleansing material and monitoring the condition and fill level of the hole. Particular attention should be paid to the cleanliness of the top of the borehole. This is easily soiled and will quickly begin to smell and harbour flies if not regularly cleaned. As desludging is usually not an option the latrine should be decommissioned X.6 when filled up to the top 0.5 m of the hole.

The process of removing the accumulated sludge from a storage or treatment facility.

Health and Safety

If used and managed well, Borehole Latrines can be considered a safe excreta containment technology. They need to be equipped with Handwashing Facilities U.7 and proper handwashing with soap after toilet use needs to be addressed as part of hygiene promotion activities X.12. As with all pit-based systems, groundwater contamination can be an issue and soil properties such as the permeability of the soil and groundwater level should be properly assessed X.3 to identify the minimum distance to the next water source and limit exposure to microbial contamination. The Sphere minimum standards on excreta management should be consulted for further guidance.

Consists of urine and faeces that are not mixed with any flushwater. Excreta is relatively small in volume, but concentrated in both nutrients and pathogens. Depending on the characteristics of the faeces and the urine content, it can have a soft or runny consistency.Refers to (semi-solid) excrement that is not mixed with urine or water. Depending on diet, each person produces approximately 50–150 L per year of faecal matter of which about 80 % is water and the remaining solid fraction is mostly composed of organic material. Of the total essential plant nutrients excreted by the human body, faeces contain around 39 % of the phosphorus (P), 26 % of the potassium (K) and 12 % of the nitrogen (N). Faeces also contain the vast majority of the pathogens excreted by the body, as well as energy and carbon rich, fibrous material.The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.Water that is located beneath the earth’s surface.
Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.User interface used for urination and defecation. The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18

Costs

Building Borehole Latrines is relatively inexpensive. Costs vary depending on the availability and costs of an auger or drilling machine and local materials. Cost calculations need to include ongoing O & M requirements.

Social Considerations

The design of the Borehole Latrine should ideally be discussed with the community beforehand. It should reflect local user preferences ( sitter vs. squatter, anal cleansing practices, direction, positioning, screens etc.) and should account for the accessibility and safety of users, including men, women, children, elderly and disabled people X.10. The potential handing over to beneficiaries and the roles and responsibilities for O & M need to be agreed upon early on and closely linked to respective hygiene promotion activities X.12 to ensure appropriate use and O & M of the facilities.

A person who prefers to sit on the toilet.A person who prefers to squat over the toilet.
User interface used for urination and defecation.

Fact Sheet Overview

Input Products

Faeces
Urine

Output Products


Emergency Phase

Acute Response + +
Stabilisation +

Challenging Ground Conditions

Application Level / Scale

Household + +
Neighbourhood + +

Water-based and Dry Technologies

Dry

Management Level

Household + +
Shared + +
Public +

Technical Complexity

Space Required

Objectives & Key Features

• Safe containment
• Minimising immediate public health risk
• Fast implementation

Strength & Weakness

  • Inexpensive
  • Quick to construct
  • No water needed for operation
  • Little space required
  • Unsuitable for areas with high water-table, unstable soil and rocky ground
  • Often odour and fly problems
  • Groundwater contamination might be an issue
  • Drilling machine is needed
  • Relatively short lifetime
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