Elephant Toilets are VIP latrines for rural applications.
The Elephant Toilet is a ventilation improved (VIP) Latrine designed for rural sanitation applications.
The Africa Trust currently implements the Elephant Toilet in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Uganda
The Africa Trust has distributed toilet since 2013, Pump Aid (2009 – 2012)
The African Trust indicates that 100 British pounds as a a donation amount that will provide a family with an Elephant Toilet.
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
Rural households and communities without access to improved sanitation
Hand built by local masons and community members, the cement in the Elephant Toilet is mainly used to mold a reusable slab that sits above the main toilet pit. The circular concrete slab is approximately 36 inches in diameter, 4 inches thick, made from 1 bag of portland cement mixed with coarse sand, and reinforced with any available salvaged metal rods or wire. The concrete mixture is poured into a circular mold described by string, and comprised of utility bricks on the ground with a hand-sized, semi circle of metal rod exposed from one side which forms a handle for moving the pad when existing pit is full. The pad features footpads on flanking an 8 inch center hole for solid waste, and channel for liquid waste diversion.
For the pit construction, required materials include bricks, sand or rocks to line the pit. Full instructions are available here.
The Elephant Toilet is built in communities where the African Trust operates and is funded by donations.
From 2009–2012 Pump Aid piloted a project that trained former child soldiers to build Elephant Toilets for Liberian communities, delivering 300 Elephant Toilets. The number of Elephant Toilets implemented by the African Trust is unknown.
Type of toilet
Method of evacuation
How the fecal sludge is stored
The holding volume of the containment
Time until emptying is estimated to be needed
The Elephant Toilet consists of a concrete slab, and thatched roof hut, with the toilet positioned over a 3 meter pit lined with stones. Users stand on the elephant’s “ears” and urine is removed by the “trunk”, or channel, to a nearby earth-covered compost pit. The faeces decompose more easily without urine, as urine kills its useful bacteria. Vegetation can be enriched by the pit’s nitrogen rich urine. A privacy structure can be built around the pit, with an internal chimney running up the wall, using sun-dried mud bricks.
Once the pit of the toilet has reached full capacity the stone lining of the pit enables the user to plant a productive fruit tree in its place and move the reusable slab for a new toilet.
Local masons or community members involved in construction are responsible for ongoing maintenance.
The Elephant Toilet’s concrete pad, its primary component, is possible to replicate. The separately-constructed pit and superstructure require local labor.
The pad can be reused over a new pit when an existing pit has been filled with solid waste. Pit capacity is unspecified.
Safe handling of waste materials requires protective clothing.
Privacy and insect screening is achieved by building a superstructure over the toilet. Improved urine diversion can be achieved by plastering the wall in front of the toilet so that standing urination is directed at wall and into channel rather than into pit hole.
A clear plastic bottle covered in pin prick holes can be placed at the top of the chimney creating a ventilation system which also traps flies. Seso, a local plant with antiseptic properties can be grown outside the toilet and users can pick a leaf to use as soap to wash their hands with after every visit.
Field trials. In 2012 Pump Aid evaluated an Elephant Toilet pilot in Liberian communities to assess the functionality and suitability of the technologies and the impact of the programme. They concluded that while the Elephant Toilet was appreciated by the beneficiary households, a further scaling in Liberia was not viable as it required expensive inputs (cement) and tools (casting molds) and made the solution unaffordable for both artisans and households.
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