Give your pit-latrine a classy look

Wednesday May 22 2019

An Eco San latrine in the area that was built

An Eco San latrine in the area that was built by Natural Resources Defense Initiatives (NRDI) in the area. Giving your pit-latrine a face lift improves the look and functionality of a pit latrine. Photo by ALEX ASHABA 

By Zuurah Karungi

Most people neglect their pit-latrines and concentrate more on the house beauty forgetting it is one place that most people will visit in a home. It is therefore important to keep a clean and classy toilet. Here are some things you could add to your toilet to make it look classy and modern.

Add beautiful ventilators
Jamilu Ramathan, an engineer, notes that ventilators will help you trap insects like flies as well as increase air circulation that will keep your toilet odour free. “A good ventilator should have gaps that are wide enough to bring in enough air. These can be covered with a wire mesh to trap the insects that could enter. The choice of ventilators matters as they come in different designs,” he says.

Ramathan adds that tiles are a great way to bring modernity to your latrine. “These come in different designs and colours though rough surfaced tiles are recommended for a latrine,” he says. He adds that you can also put them on latrine walls as this will enhance beauty and modernity.

While building, you can give your latrine a great view right from the verandah. You can use a different designs such as oval, rectangular, square, and circular among others. These will make it unique, classy and appealing. These could be modified by tiles, concrete or wooden floors to emphasize the modern bit.

Dorothy Nabatanzi, an interior designer, says lighting is magical and brings out the hidden beauty at night. “You do not need to bring chandeliers or expensive lumps to the latrine. All a latrine needs is a clear, bright and strong lighting which will in a way reflect the other features such as tiles ad paint hence bringing out the required beauty,” she says. Nabatanzi cautions against coloured lights as these may make it hard for one to see in case there is something in the toilet, say a reptile. She adds that every toilet should have a security light outside.

Paint also portrays class and modernity when well applied as it can give life to both interior and exterior walls.
“White or grey are great colours for this case because they are cool colours and will give you a peace of mind when in there and also depict cleanliness in a home. Avoid painting your walls green as these will attract insects and dangerous reptiles and animals such as snakes,” Nabatanzi adds.


Sharon Amoding, a landscaper, notes that flowers are natural beauty modifiers in a home. “Flowers will make any place look good and appealing, including the latrine. You could use hanging plants where you put them in vessel or plant them directly in the soil around the toilet. You may add snake repellants such as lemon grass, and lemons among others to bar snakes from coming in. Alternatively, you can have air refreshers such as Boston fern,” she advises. She adds that adding colorful plants would be a better option.

Add latrine covers
Latrines covers will not only keep flies away but also add modernity to you latrine. Latrine covers come in different colours and designs. Choose the best that will make it outstanding and beautiful, and clean them often to keep them looking good.

Emptying the pit
Apart from the external beauty, you also need to cater for the pit itself. Therefore, emptying the pit is key as it beautifies the air in the latrine.

When the pit is full, the toilet is no longer usable. The time it takes to fill the pit depends on its volume, the number of users, the soil permeability and groundwater level. It can typically take between one and 10 years or even longer in some exceptional cases.
At that point, the pit can be covered and abandoned, and a new pit-latrine built if space on the property permits this. The new pit-latrine may reuse the shelter (superstructure) if the shelter can be moved without collapsing.

In space constrained urban areas such as Kampala, full pits are not abandoned but rather emptied so that the toilets can continue to be used at the same location after the emptying has taken place.
Depending on the facility that requires emptying, one could use a cesspool truck or a gulper. A gulper is an emptying technology that is especially suitable for congested urban slum areas that are inaccessible by cesspool trucks.