19.4.2 Questions to consider
Now, let’s discuss factors that are important for households to consider in the selection of liquid waste disposal facilities. When families are selecting a sanitation technology with your help, there are many interrelated and variable factors that they should take into consideration. Some of these factors are decided by the geographical location you are working in and you will not be able to influence these, although it is important that you take them into account. Others are determined by the people involved and by the local situation.
What is your location?
Your geographical location will influence factors such as:
- Climatic conditions: for example, in highland areas with heavy annual rain, latrines should be constructed in such a way that prevents flooding.
- Topography and geological formations: the depth of the water table, type of rock and the permeability of the soil; sandy soils, for example, are more permeable than clay soils.
- Abundance or scarcity of water: WCs and other water carriage systems are not appropriate in areas where there is no piped water.
Who will use the facility?
The number of people, their characteristics and attitudes will all need to be considered. For example:
- Cultural acceptability: social and cultural beliefs, and the values and practices of a community, are important considerations for households when selecting a sanitation technology.
- Affordability: the choice of technology will depend on the ability and willingness to pay; the cost should be fairly low for most people to be able to afford it.
- Safety to users: a latrine should not be constructed in ways that endanger the safety of children, women or other family members who use the facility.
- Accessibility: children, elderly people and people with disabilities may need special consideration to ensure the chosen facility is easily accessible to them without discomfort or inconvenience.
What local resources are available?
It’s important to consider the local context and whether local resources can be used. This includes:
- Availability of resources and infrastructure: the presence of human skills, construction materials and other resources may make one technology more appropriate than another. In general, sanitation technologies that need less skill are important for rural households.
- Energy source and pit emptying requirements: in rural areas where a pit emptying service is not available, households will need to depend on traditional latrines.
- Demand for reuse of the waste: facilities that ultimately help households to recycle and use waste, such as composting and biogas reactors, are important considerations as well.
These are the main factors that determine the appropriateness of the sanitation technology that households choose and use. In general, the technology we choose must give a complete barrier to the liquid waste in order to protect the family’s health, while being acceptable in terms of cost (i.e. installation, operation and maintenance costs) and be socially and culturally sound.