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close this bookFood, Water and Family Health: A Manual for Community Educators (UNDP - WHO, 1994, 108 p.)
close this folderUnit 1: Healthy water and better sanitation
View the documentThe problems we have with water
View the documentWays to keep our water supply safe
View the documentGolden rules for safe water
View the documentImproving our environment ourselves
View the documentThe water committee
View the documentWays to make drinking water safer
View the documentLatrines


We marked on a map the places where people now defecate. Many men go close to the river early in the morning.

Women usually go outside, behind vegetation, for privacy; some use homemade latrines.

Children go all over the place!

Flies feast on faeces and then land on our food.

We have to build latrines and use them properly to keep flies away from human faeces.

This will protect our drinking and bathing water from faeces causing diarrhoea, dysentery, worms, cholera, typhoid and bilharzia.

Always remember to wash hands with soap and water or ash after using a latrine.

Privacy is another important reason why people like latrines. When properly used, latrines provide privacy and many health advantages.

We organized a meeting to discuss latrines. Here are some of the things that we decided to do to improve our community:

“Using latrines keeps the village clean and safe from many diseases. But if the latrine is close to wells or water sources it will pollute them,” a neighbour explained. “Be certain to build the latrines at least fifty paces from any water source,” a woman said.

“This means fifty paces from wells, from the river, or the ponds. A latrine should be at least twenty paces from any house,” she added.

“Keep soap, ash and clean water near the latrine so you can always wash hands after use,” a young man suggested.

“Young children are often afraid to use the latrine. Clean up after them and drop their faeces down the latrine. Teach them how to use the latrine and help them not to be afraid of it,” another neighbour reminded us.

“Sweeping the latrine keeps flies away,” he continued. “I often sprinkle ash on the floor before sweeping to help pick up dirt and keep the latrine dry.”

“I worked hard to dig and build the latrine. By keeping the latrine clean, I know my family will use it,” he said.

The man told us about a latrine with a pipe to remove bad odours.

He said that this kind of latrine is called a Ventilated Improved Latrine (VIP Latrine).



“For other types of latrines, a cover will reduce smells and keep flies away,” he explained.

When we are working in the fields or away from home it is not always possible to use a latrine,” the school teacher reminded us.

“Please bury the faeces with soil to keep flies and animals away.”

“Of course we must follow the first golden rule,” we all joined in. “No one should defecate or urinate in or near a source of drinking or bathing water.”


Use a map to show how far tubewells and latrines should be from each other.


Are faeces a problem in or near your home, school or where you work?

Why do people like or dislike latrines?

· Are they too expensive to build?
· Do they smell bad?
· Are they dirty or dangerous?

Unit 1: Healthy water and better sanitation

· Clean water is linked to good health.

· Water should be kept clean and the Golden Rules for safe water tell us how.

· People in our villages should avoid defecating or urinating in water.

· Latrines are the best place for defecation. We can work together to build the kind of latrines we need and can afford.

· If we group together, we can improve the environment in which we live.