The Timber Deck VIP Latrine

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The Timber Deck VIP Latrine

Seven years into the RDP, the backlog in rural sanitation has been reduced by only two percent. One of the
reasons is that practitioners and communities are still mostly locked into the idea that to build a pit latrine you
need a lined pit, a concrete slab and a concrete block superstructure. Such a latrine is far more expensive
than the R600 government subsidy. A further problem with lined pits and concrete superstructures, is that
the pit must be emptied every seven to ten years, or else the latrine must be abandoned.

One response has been to opt for mass produced, small, corrugated iron top structures. However, once the
slab and other costs are factored in, even these are more expensive than the subsidy, and their aesthetic
value is debatable.

This dilemma has led to the development of the Timber Deck VIP latrine, which requires little or no cement,
uses traditional building materials for the superstructure, is spacious and inexpensive. The Timber Deck
latrine is based on the idea that most pits do not need to be lined if the top structure can be moved when the
pit is full. If the top structure is to be moved then all materials of value must be movable. For the walls of the
structure the traditional building materials of the area are used, whether these are wattle and daub, mud
bricks, reeds or stone. The subsidy is used to pay for a 1.5 metre by 1.8 metre CCA treated, sealed and
painted timber deck (which doubles as a pit cover and latrine floor), a vent pipe, a fly screen, roofing, a
moulded VIP pedestal, and some assistance with construction.

This paper describes and illustrates this technology and examines the experience from three pilot projects
where it has been used.

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