Potential Sanitation Solutions for Emergency Response
- Lack of adequate and appropriate sanitation and hygiene access can be chronic public health challenges contributing to disease transmission in low- and medium-income countries. This situation can be further exacerbated during environmental disasters and environmental and public health emergencies.
- In response to disasters and emergencies, prevention of indiscriminate open defecation and containing waste is critical to reduce disease transmission.
- While planning for long-term waste management, immediate sanitation solutions are often needed to minimize public health impact during emergencies, and should include sanitation facilities, hand washing facilities with soap and water, operation and maintenance regimes, operator training, and community education. Sanitation options are discussed below.
||Individual, single-use biodegradable bags for point-of-use sanitation that are buried or properly disposed
|Bucket Latrines or Elevated Toilets
||Elevated temporary structure over large container or tank that can be lined with large, replaceable plastic bag||
Portable prefabricated sanitation units with water-tight excreta-holding tank, containing a chemical solution to aid digestion and reduce odour.
||Narrow trenches with temporary privacy structure; waste covered daily with soil.||
|Communal or family pit latrines with short-term structure
||Shallow pit of approximately 0.3m x 0.5m x 0.5m depth with simple privacy structure; waste covered with soil when latrine is near-full.||
|Ecological Sanitation Latrines
||Elevated structure over container or bin which stores organic waste for decomposition. Dehydrating toilets divert urine from organic waste and require bulk drying and pH additives. Non-urine diverting toilets collect all waste for decomposition and require the addition of organics.||
Recommendations for Sanitation in Improvised Settlements and Cholera Prone Areas
- Chemical toilets should be used in the immediate term where available and where the means to service them adequately exists.
- If chemical toilets are not feasible, trench latrines or temporary pit latrines should be constructed immediately where no toilet facilities exist.
- Elevated latrines should be considered for areas where digging of latrines is not possible or acceptable or areas with high water table or prone to flooding. They have larger reservoir and need to be desludged less frequently than chemical toilets.
- The Sphere standard of 50 people per latrine for emergency situations should be used for the immediate term, with the aim of decreasing to the Sphere minimum standard for excreta disposal of 20 people per latrine.
- Residents of IDP settlements should be engaged in choosing among appropriate alternatives.
- Existing practices should be further investigated to identify other feasible alternatives (e.g., are people in improvised settlements using toilets in minimally damaged buildings in the vicinity?)
- Further investigation of the local feasibility and local acceptability of packet and bucket latrines should be undertaken.
- Health communication materials should contain information about latrine use and care (in local languages), and provisions made to communicate with non-literate populations.
- Longer term sanitation solutions should be investigated further to help prevent recurrence of cholera and other infectious diseases.
- Regardless of the type of sanitation facility installed, handwashing stations should be installed at every sanitation facility.
References and Additional Information
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