Definition of sanitation

Definition of sanitation. Sanitation is the general cleanliness of a place where we live.

Ways of maintaining sanitation

  • Construction of latrines or toilets for proper disposal of wastes.
  • Digging rubbish pits and providing dust bins for proper disposal of house hold refuse.
  • Slashing bushes around the homes.
  • Draining away all stagnant water to deny mosquitoes breeding and protecting water sources.

Constructing a latrine or toilet

A latrine is pit dug in the ground where human excreta is deposited.

Uses of latrines

They keep faeces and urine where vectors cannot bring them to our food.

Types of latrines

  1. Pit latrine
  2. Toilets
  3. Potties

Pit Latrines

A pit latrine, also known as pit toilet, is a type of toilet that collects human feces in a hole in the ground. Urine and feces enter the pit through a drop hole in the floor, which might be connected to a toilet seat or squatting pan for user comfort.

A diagram of a pit Latrine

Definition of sanitation

Qualities of a well built latrine

  • It should be 5 to 7 metres deep
  • The floor should be strong enough to stand on and smooth to sweep and clean.
  • It should have a hole big enough to allow faeces and urine to pass and small enough to prevent children from falling inside.
  • It should have spiral walls and doors to provide privacy to the user.
  • It should have a lid to cover the hole.

NB: Covering controls bad smell and  the movement of flies is controlled.

  • It should be constructed 10 metres away from the main house and 30 metres from the water source.
  • It should be built below the water table or source to avoid contamination.

Site of a pit latrine

  • It should be atleast 10 metres from a living house to prevent flies from carrying germs on to food.
  • It should be atleast 30 metres away from a water source (water table) to prevent feaces and urine seeping in to water source and contaminate it.
  • It sinking rainy seasons
  • Should not be built above the water table to prevent the feaces and urine going into and contaminate.

Types of Pit latrine

  1. Ordinary pit latrine
  2. VIP latrines

Ordinary pit latrine

It is common in villages

It should have a lid to cover the hole.

The VIP latrine

It is a special type of a latrine with a vent pipe to take out smell and a screen on top to trap flies.

Important features of a VIP latrine

  • Vent pipe: it lets out bad smell.
  • Screen on top: traps flies
  • Spiral shaped walls no doors for free circulation of air.
  • It has no lid to let in air

How to construct a VIP latrine

  • It should be at least 10 metres away from any school, house, kitchen, and other buildings
  • It should be 30 metres away from any water source.
  • It should be built on solid ground and not in valleys or swamps.
  • Dig a pit of about 5-10 metres deep

Cover the pit in any of the following ways;

i. Use strong poles of hard timbers

ii. Metal bars

iii. Build a house on top of the pit

fix a net or screen on top of the vent pipe.

Place the pipe in its hole.

How to maintain a VIP latrine

  • The floor should be swept or washed if it’s cemented.
  • Wash or remove any feaces, insects, cobwebs and dust from walls and corners of the roof
  • Trim grass and bushes around the latrine
  • While using a latrine, make sure that the feaces go directly into the hole.
  • Clean with any soft tissue or leaves
  • Wash your hands with soap after using the latrine.

Toilets (water closet system)

This is a bowl shaped device used for disposing human waste, which is flushed away the bowl by water from a tank (cistern).

Components of a flush toilet system

Parts include;

  1. A tank that stores water for flushing
  2. A seat with a cover for sitting.
  3. A pipe that takes water from the tank to the bowl and another that takes it to septic tank.
  4. A septic tank, an underground storage hole for human waste and waste water from kitchen and bathroom (i.e.Sewage)

The waste materials in the septic tanks are called sewage.

Sewage from septic tanks may be carried away by pipes (sewers) for treatment to make it less harmful.

Where there is no pipe system, it is carried using vehicles called cesspool emptiers.

In Uganda, collection and treatment of sewage from homes and institutions is done by National water and sewage corporation (NSWSC).

  • The lever is either pulled or pushed top release water during flushing.

Flush toilets are commonly used in cities, towns and other places where there is piped water.


  • Can be put inside the house and vehicles
  • They are easy to clean
  • They are user friendly, even young children can use them.


  • They are very expensive
  • They require a lot of water to function
  • They are only used where there is piped water.
  • They can easily get blocked if hard objects are put in it.

How to maintain flush toilets

  • Keep the seat clean, do not step or urinate in them.
  • Flush toilets after use.
  • Use only soft tissue or toilet paper after cleaning your self.
  • Do not use the toilet when it is blocked.