Developing Latrines for Challenging Environments
LESSON LEARNED: Solutions to challenging environments require more than a modification or adaptation of existing design; otherwise heavy subsidy is required for uptake.
The effort to design a latrine suitable for challenging environments, such as areas with high ground water tables or frequent flooding, produced two prototypes using an infiltration method. However, introducing the infiltration-based prototypes to market was not recommended. Research showed that infiltration is not realistically feasible, desirable, or viable in the Cambodian context. Potential directions for future development were identified, including on-site waste treatment or sealed systems coupled with waste management.
One of the learnings from this experience was that a mere adaptation of existing pit-latrine designs is not sufficient for the challenging environments addressed.
Investments into R&D for a new system—treatment or “sealed + waste treatment”—is necessary to develop a product that is hygienic in light of known user behavior.
Modification to current designs is not sufficient for a market-based solution. Either significant subsidy is needed to encourage adoption of the proposed filtration design or a new archetype of latrine solution is needed.