Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) for Study Session 20

Now that you have completed this study session, you can assess how well you have achieved its Learning Outcomes by answering these questions. Write your answers in your Study Diary and discuss them with your Tutor at the next Study Support Meeting. You can check your answers with the Notes on the Self-Assessment Questions at the end of this Module.

SAQ 20.1 (tests Learning Outcomes 20.1 and 20.3)

Explain the difference between an ecosan latrine and a standard pit latrine.


In an ecosan latrine, human waste is mixed with plant material, ash and vegetable waste so that when it has decomposed it produces a useful product. It converts the waste into a resource. The compost can be used for growing a tree in the Arborloo system or it can be dug out to be used to spread on fields as a fertiliser. This does not happen in a standard pit latrine, which simply contains the waste.

SAQ 20.2 (tests Learning Outcomes 20.2 and 20.4)

Simple latrine
Figure 20.12  For use with SAQ 20.2.

What improvements would you suggest to the latrine shown in Figure 20.12?


This latrine is very basic. It would be improved by the proper installation of a concrete slab over the pit. The slab should have a lid over the squat hole. It could also be improved by installing a vent pipe in the proper way to convert it into a VIP latrine. There should be a handwashing facility just outside the door.

SAQ 20.3 (tests Learning Outcome 20.2)

What are the potential risks posed to the environment in using dry pit latrines?


The liquid waste seeps out of pit latrines into the ground beneath. This could cause pollution of groundwater and surface water.

SAQ 20.4 (tests Learning Outcome 20.4)

List the materials you would need to make a simple device for handwashing.


The materials needed to make a handwashing device are a water container that can hold about 5 litres with a lid, a hollow tube of some sort for the spout, something sharp to make the hole with and something to stand or hang the container on. You will also need soap or ash for effective handwashing.

SAQ 20.5 (tests Learning Outcome 20.5)

Ato Tedila, a local farmer, consults you about building a latrine in the compound of his house. He is an open-minded man who is keen to improve life for his family. He has a wife and three young children and his elderly mother also lives with them. They get their water from a well in the compound. The area has a heavy soil and the rock below is impermeable.

  • a.Which types of latrine are possible choices for him?
  • b.Which types of latrine would you recommend, and why?
  • c.What other advice would you give him about the location, design and construction of the latrine?


  • a.Ato Tedila cannot install a water carriage system because he does not have a piped water supply; therefore, he has to install a pit latrine of some sort. The possible choices are a single pit latrine, a pit latrine with slab, a VIP latrine with slab, a double pit latrine or one of the ecosan systems, namely an Arborloo or a Fossa Alterna.
  • b.You should not recommend a pit latrine without a slab because this does not provide adequate sanitation. The VIP latrine is preferable to a simple latrine, but an ecosan system would be better because this would produce a useful product as well as protecting the health of the family and the environment. You would need to ask Tedila about his attitude to using an ecological sanitation system and whether he would be willing to make use of the composted waste material. He is a farmer so he may be able to use it on his fields and he is open-minded so this system may be attractive to him. If he was reluctant to dig out the compost you could recommend the Arborloo system because that does not require handling; the tree is planted on top of the filled pit.
  • c.You should advise him to consider the location of the pit. It must be at least 15 m away from his well and preferably a greater distance. It must also be at a lower level according to the slope of the land. He should also consider the wind direction and place the latrine downwind and at a convenient distance from the house. He would need to consider the design of the squat hole to ensure it is safe for his children and comfortable for his elderly mother. You could advise him about possible materials to be used for the superstructure and recommend what is available locally. You should also advise him to install a handwashing facility next to the latrine.

Summary of Study Session 20