Leach Pit Toilets for Rocky Terrain - Experiences, Examples

From Poulomy Chakraborty, Feedback Ventures (P) Ltd, New Delhi

Posted 4 November 2008

I work for Feedback Ventures, an infrastructure consultancy based in New Delhi. We are involved in a sanitation project known as 'Community Led Total Sanitation' (CLTS) which is supported by the Water and Sanitation Programme – South Asia (WSP-SA) in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Sikkim.

We conduct training of trainers at the district level for people who are involved in accelerating the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) and scaling up CLTS in their respective districts. CLTS aims at making a village free from open defecation as the first step towards total sanitation. The focus is on behaviour change to facilitate the adoption of sanitary and hygienic practices.

During our training workshops, apart from triggering behaviour change, we also discuss rural eco-friendly low-cost toilet constructing techniques. These are usually region-specific; pertaining to local needs and depend on the geological conditions of the area. During the sessions, it has been found that digging pits in rocky terrain in parts of Madhya Pradesh becomes not only tough but also expensive. People usually have to hire earthmoving machines to dig the pits.

Moreover, as the soil is rocky, it prevents leaching. Hence, it is found that these pits start overflowing and stinking. A leach pit in rocky terrain defies technology of a common leach pit used in other regions, where the soil is more porous. These leach pits are not suitable for hard rocky terrain. Looking at the conditions of rural India, these pits should also be low-cost and eco-friendly.

Given these difficulties, we are seeking inputs on construction of leach pit toilets in rocky terrain. We would like information from members on the following:

  • What are the kinds of toilet pits that can be dug in rocky terrain where the conventional leach pit technology is ineffective? These need to be low-cost, eco-friendly and durable.
  • Is there any reference material available for construction of such toilets?

The inputs will help us in developing suitable training modules for construction of toilets in rocky areas.