Manohar in Talabpura village of Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh came up with the decision to make a double pit latrine. He is indeed a multi-talented person. He is good at painting work and also has a creative mind to design such a latrine for his family. He had heard about twin pit latrines from one of his relatives residing in some other village.
In his own village, he was constantly hearing about hygiene, sanitation and use of toilets from a team from People’s Science Institute (PSI), Dehradun which is working on fluorosis mitigation in Dhar. PSI had organised a puppet and a film show in his village to create awareness about this issue. The team would visit individual households to explain the problems with open defecation and the benefits of using a toilet. Manohar did not have a toilet. The women folk in his house used to defecate in the open, in the bush or in abandoned areas. They would get frightened when they felt that someone was passing by and feared being noticed. Manohar says, “At times I had to escort my mother and my wife so that they felt safe. The talk about toilets and the problems faced by my wife inspired me so much that I decided to build a latrine for my family and that too, a twin pit latrine.”
In a place like Dhar where there is almost 100 percent open defecation, constructing a twin pit latrine was a unique and courageous idea. Manohar says he was not scared about the remarks he would get from the villagers. He was confident about his plan. His family, including his parents, wife and two children, supported him. The size of each pit he constructed is 6x6x5 ft. He has placed a water tank near the latrine which he fills with hand pump water. To construct a toilet, he received an amount of Rs 12,000 under the Swachh Bharat Mission. But his total expenditure to construct the twin pit latrine was Rs 27,000 which he managed himself.
He says, “This kind of latrine can be easily constructed. The capacity of each pit is normally designed for five years’ usage. Both pits are used alternately. When one pit is full, the incoming excreta is diverted into the second pit. In about two years, the sludge gets digested. Although a double pit latrine is more costly and requires more space than a single pit latrine, we will not have to empty the pits or abandon the latrine after a few years.”
Manohar says this practice is also clean. “Before using the toilet we pour some water and after defecation also we clean the latrine. We wear slippers in the latrine and use phenyl to clean it. The latrine provides us with privacy, convenience and social status compared to the open defecation practice. Now the latrine is available even for our guests.”
Double pit latrines may serve as a long-term sanitation option even in high water table areas because the pits do not need to be emptied immediately and the excreta decomposes. It has a high potential for upgradation and can later be easily connected even to sewers when introduced in the area. Such latrines offer users several important advantages over single pit latrines.
Looking at Manohar’s success, there are a couple of other families also in the village who have decided to construct a double pit latrine. Manohar happily provides guidance to them. Such kind of behaviour change is rare but it did take place in the case of Manohar. He is a barefoot engineer* in the true sense. He gives credit to the PSI team for his decision as they repeatedly talked about issues related to WASH in his village.
*Barefoot Engineer is a term used in India for a person who is professionally unqualified but has practical knowledge or the capacity to learn technical skills.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of India Water Portal.