Multipurpose Latrine Slabs

In emergencies where sanitation needs to be provided pit latrines are the most common solution. The slab which covers the pit and which users stand on when using the toilet can be made of wood, precast concrete or plastic. Wood is typically a temporary solution and requires sourcing in country and precast concrete is slow to produce. As such, Oxfam use reinforced plastic slabs which are sent out by air freight. Currently Oxfam use a rectangular squat slab, measuring 1200 x 800mm. This slab has an attachment which allows the toilet to be used as a pour flush toilet.

We are looking for a new or alternative pit latrine slab that can be easily adapted for peoples varying toilet habits and for varying toilet designs. This might include:
  • People who sit to use the toilet,
  • People who squat,
  • Children, possibly via a potty,
  • Suitable for disabled users (although this could be a separate slab),
  • Standard pit latrines,
  • Pour-flush latrine, using a shallow U-bend,
  • Urine Diversion, where faeces and urine are separated.

The solution could be a new single slab with lots of separate ancillaries, it could be ancillaries for the existing slab, or it could be a variety of different slabs for different purposes.

Design Criteria

Nature of solution
A slab or slabs configurable for use in a variety of circumstances.
The solution should be very durable. There cannot be any chance of a slab failure resulting in somebody falling into the pit below. It must also resist extreme heat.
Size and shape
Oxfam’s existing slab is 1200 x 800mm. For compatibility and standardisation any new solution should use the same dimensions. Other innovative solutions may be considered, however. If a slab is to be produced for disabled users, it may have to be larger.
The solution should be suitable for use with stand alone pit latrines and pit latrine blocks.
The slab must be strong enough to support the weight of two people, and be rigid so as to give the user confidence in its strength. The slab must also fail in a ductile manner, so as to prevent anybody falling into the pit below.
The slab should be non-slip.
Emptying of latrine
Consideration should be given as to how the slab will allow a pit latrine to be emptied, when configured for use with pit latrines.
The solution should be hygienic and easy to clean. There should be no grooves in the slab for grime to build up in i.e. one smooth surface.
On arrival in the country, the solution will need to be man-handleable. A single slab shouldn’t weigh any more than around 15kg.
The solution should pack small for ease of shipping. Ideally, the solution will fit on an EUR-pallet.
Construction method
The solution should be quick and easy to use, requiring little or no skill.
Local Materials
The solution should be a complete kit, not requiring any materials to be sourced in country.
For a plain slab, a unit cost of around £30.
Design an improved slab to allow add-on (ancillaries) for a multiple of purposes and users. Develop, test and have ready for production at least 2 different add-ons to the existing pit latrine slab that increase its versatility for emergency situations. One will improve its usability by less abled users, and the other will improve its suitability for pour flush.
Working with KK Nag and Unicef on the development of a toilet seat.
A toilet seat add-on for the existing Nag Magic slab will allow it to be used by different culture and make it easier to use for some disabled people and pregnant women.
The seat has been through several computer based and polystyrene iterations, guided by feedback from ourselves and Unicef. The resulting design has now been moulded and will be received shortly.

Working with KK Nag on the development of a child-friendly add-on for the slab
Rather than create a separate slab for children, we are working with KK Nag to create an add-on which secures to the existing slab. This will be useful in schools and in child-friendly spaces. Once this has been refined it will be tested in South Sudan, along with the sitting add on toilet seat.

Tell us your idea

If you have any products, ideas or would like to become involved in the latrine lining project please get in touch with:

Angus McBride, Emergency Sanitation Researcher at Oxfam
Phone: +44 (0) 1865 473814