Pit latrines

In Uganda, especially in the villages, flushing toilets are rare. Instead, many people use pit latrines. “Pit latrine?” you might ask. Well let me paint you a picture. It is essentially a deep hole in the ground with a wood or cement slab on top with space for you to put your feet on either side of the hole. You squat and do your business in the hole. There are varying levels of pit latrines and pit latrine houses that range from one made out of sticks and banana leaves to brick buildings. Fortunately for us, we have a flushing toilet where we’re staying but I’d guess we’re at the only home within about 25 kilometers that has one. What we’ve discovered through talking with the villagers, is probably about half of the homes don’t have a pit latrine at all. They just walk around and do their business wherever.

So today I had a teaching session with the Women’s Rotary Community Corps (which is actually 10 men and 10 women) and the Youth Corps (they just randomly showed up). We discussed all of the reasons why latrines are important (mostly disease prevention) and how it only takes one person without a latrine to get others sick. As a group, they decided that they wanted to go door to door and talk to families about the importance of pit latrines so I told them that we should role play the visit. I played the part of the resistant villager and a woman from the group set out to convince me. She did a great job and everyone had a good laugh as I tried to get out of making a pit latrine. I used every excuse I could think of including that my husband was very busy and had several other wives that he spent time with so he wasn’t going to be very helpful. Hahaha.

After the latrine talk we also discussed basic hygiene like washing hands, making sure your goats don’t poop near your house and things like that. We ended the talk with some information on nutrition. Most people really don’t have much of a concept of the importance of eating food from various sources. The majority of people here subsist on mostly carbohydrates like cassava, sweet potatoes and mangoes. Vegetables and meat are pretty few and far between. I’m not sure that we made much of an impact in the nutrition area but the seed has been planted I guess. 🙂

On a separate note, I’m beginning to feel much better today. I think the antibiotics in my system are starting to work so I’m on my way to ringing in a healthy 2011!

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2 thoughts on “Pit latrines

  1. Hi! I would have commented sooner, but I had to click on RSS to get the blog home page to get the updated commentary, so I thought you weren’t posting for a while. ANYway, wow!! I have to say it all sounds very unreal and far away – your writing is great – very informative and fun, but it is really impossible to imagine…sounds so much like a book or movie, so foreign from my little suburban life. Bravo to you for going on this adventure of a lifetime, and doing what you can to help – it’s hard to know what seed that gets planted will yield amazing results, so keep planting! I’m sure you’ll be bringing some amazing seeds back to us, too…what a gift, to have some time to experience life from such a different perspective. Soak it up! Thanks for sharing! See you next year! : ) Jen

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