U.5 Controlled Open Defecation

Controlled Open Defecation is an intervention that may be considered in the acute response phase where random open defecation is prevalent and no other sanitation infrastructure has been set up. It includes the provision of designated defecation sites (commonly called Open Defecation Fields) and the clearing of scattered faeces.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.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.
Practice of defecating outside in the open environment.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.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 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

Controlled Open Defecation restricts and manages open defecation practises to certain pre-determined areas (defecation fields) and thereby addresses the public health risks associated with uncontrolled open defecation. In addition, areas where open defecation poses a particular public health threat (e.g. close to markets, Water sources, hospitals or schools) should be very clearly marked, and open defecation in these areas be strictly controlled.

Practice of defecating outside in the open environment.

Design Considerations

Defecation fields require a large area of land. The area chosen should be at least 50 m from food production, storage and preparation areas (e.g. kitchens, markets), water sources, water storage and treatment facilities but close enough to ensure safety of and accessibility for users. Defecation fields should be downhill of settlements, camps and water sources to avoid contamination. The area should have proper screening for privacy, segregated sites for men and women and handwashing facilities at the entrance/exit areas. Proper lighting is recommended (including for access paths) in order to improve security at night. The defecation area consists of defecation strips, separated by screening. People should be encouraged to use one strip of land at a time and used areas must be clearly marked. Internal partitions can be used to provide more privacy and encourage greater use. After a strip is filled it is closed and faeces should be treated with lime and removed to a safe disposal site. There should be an attendant at all times ensuring proper use and security. To improve open defecation fields, shallow trenches  U.6 can be dug in order to promote the covering of faeces after defecation.

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.The common name for calcium oxide (quicklime, CaO) or calcium hydroxide (slaked or hydrated lime, Ca(OH)2). It is a white, caustic and alkaline powder produced by heating limestone. Slaked lime is less caustic than quicklime and is widely used in water/wastewater treatment and construction (for mortars and plasters). It can also be used for on-site treatment of faecal sludge. See S.17Any 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.
Practice of defecating outside in the open environment.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.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.18Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Materials

Materials are needed for proper screening and demarcation of the area. This can be done with plastic canvas or materials such as bamboo or fabrics. Wooden or metal posts are required as well as shovels and picks to set up the posts. Staff need to be provided with personal protective equipment (e.g. clothing, masks, gloves, boots), shovels, bags, buckets, wheelbarrows to remove and transport scattered faeces. Lime should be provided for subsequent treatment of faeces.

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.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 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

Applicability

Controlled Open Defecation is not considered an improved sanitation technology and should be used only as an extreme short-term measure before  other sanitation options are ready to use. Wherever possible Controlled Open Defecation should be avoided and Shallow Trench Latrines  U.6 or if possible more improved sanitation solutions should be considered as a first option instead.

Sanitation technologies are defined as the specific infrastructure, methods, or services designed to collect, contain, transform and treat products, or to transport products to another functional group. Each of the technologies included in this compendium is described on a 2-page technology information sheet in the technology compilation section. Only those sanitation technologies that have been sufficiently proven and tested are included, with a few notable exceptions of emerging technologies, which are clearly marked as such. The compendium is primarily concerned with systems and technologies directly related to managing human excreta. It does not specifically address greywater and only partially addresses stormwater management, although it does signal when a specific technology can be used to co-treat stormwater or greywater with excreta. Greywater and stormwater technologies are thus not described in detail, but are still shown as products in the system templates.Sanitation facilities that ensure hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact.
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.

Operation and Maintenance

Routine operation and maintenance (O & M) tasks include the provision of water, soap and anal cleansing materials (either water or dry cleansing materials). An attendant should be on site at all times In order to ensure security, continuous user orientation, proper use and the opening and closing of defecation strips. O & M also includes regular treatment of faeces with lime, their removal and burial or transport to a disposal site. If random open defecation is still prevalent in the area O & M may also include clearing of scattered faeces in the area.

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.The common name for calcium oxide (quicklime, CaO) or calcium hydroxide (slaked or hydrated lime, Ca(OH)2). It is a white, caustic and alkaline powder produced by heating limestone. Slaked lime is less caustic than quicklime and is widely used in water/wastewater treatment and construction (for mortars and plasters). It can also be used for on-site treatment of faecal sludge. See S.17Any 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.
Practice of defecating outside in the open environment.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.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.18Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Health and Safety

Although an improvement compared to indiscriminate open defecation, Controlled Open Defecation still remains a public health risk and should be avoided wherever possible. Involved staff must be provided with adequate personal protective equipment. Defecation fields have to be equipped with Handwashing Facilities U.7 . Solid waste containers  X.8 at the entrance/ exit can further promote public health and can be an important measure for menstrual hygiene management. Proper handwashing with soap after toilet use needs to be addressed as part of hygiene promotion activities X.12. Additional illumination at night, security guards for protection and accessibility for all users is required.

Practice of defecating outside in the open environment.
User interface used for urination and defecation.

Costs

The technology itself does not require high investment costs. The materials needed can usually be obtained cheaply and locally. For the operation of the technology, full-time staff members are required to ensure the correct use of the fields. Staff can be volunteer members of the local community. No technical knowledge is needed. Major costs associated with Controlled Open Defecation could arise from renting or acquiring the required land.

Social Considerations

A defecation field should be located where it is less likely to be a public health hazard, where costs for acquiring land are relatively low, and where it is accessible enough for people to use it. Gender segregation of facilities is critical. Having separate entrances and exits, not entirely exposed to the public, can help improve privacy. Full time attendants can promote privacy, security and correct use of the facility. Attendants can also train parents on how children should use the facility. In addition, intensive awareness raising and hygiene promotion measures are needed to ensure that defecation fields are used and random open defecation is avoided.

Practice of defecating outside in the open environment.

Fact Sheet Overview

Input Products

Faeces
Urine

Output Products

Excreta

Emergency Phase

Acute Response +

Challenging Ground Conditions

Suitable

Application Level / Scale

Neighbourhood + +
City + +

Water-based and Dry Technologies

Dry

Management Level

Public + +

Technical Complexity

Space Required

Objectives & Key Features

• Minimising immediate public health risk
• Prevention of random open defecation
• Fast implementation

Strength & Weakness

  • Can be built and repaired with locally available materials
  • Low (but variable) capital costs depending on land availability
  • Rapid implementation
  • Minimises indiscriminate open defecation
  • Big land area required and costs to rehabilitate land may be significant
  • Lack of privacy
  • Difficult to manage
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