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A latrine is a
toilet A toilet is a piece of sanitary hardware that collects human urine and Human feces, feces, and sometimes toilet paper, usually for disposal. Flush toilets use water, while dry toilet, dry or non-flush toilets do not. They can be designed for ...

toilet
or an even simpler facility that is used as a toilet within a
sanitation Sanitation refers to public health Public health has been defined as "the science and art of preventing disease", prolonging life and improving quality of life Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Health Organization The ...

sanitation
system. For example, it can be a communal
trench A trench is a type of or depression in the ground that is generally deeper than it is wide (as opposed to a wider , or ), and narrow compared with its length (as opposed to a simple hole or pit). In , trenches result from by rivers or by geol ...
in the earth in a camp to be used as
emergency sanitation Emergency sanitation is the management and technical processes required to provide sanitation in emergency situations. Emergency sanitation is required during humanitarian relief operations for refugees, people affected by natural disasters an ...
, a hole in the ground (
pit latrine A pit latrine, also known as pit toilet, is a type of toilet that collects human feces in a hole in the ground. Urine Urine is a liquid by-product of metabolism in humans and in many other animals. Urine flows from the kidneys through the u ...
), or more advanced designs, including pour-flush systems. The term "latrine" is still commonly used military parlance, less so in civilian usage except in
emergency sanitation Emergency sanitation is the management and technical processes required to provide sanitation in emergency situations. Emergency sanitation is required during humanitarian relief operations for refugees, people affected by natural disasters an ...
situations. Nowadays, the word "toilet" is more commonly used than "latrine", except for simple systems like "pit latrine" or "trench latrine". The use of latrines was a major advancement in
sanitation Sanitation refers to public health Public health has been defined as "the science and art of preventing disease", prolonging life and improving quality of life Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Health Organization The ...

sanitation
over more basic practices such as
open defecation Open defecation is the human practice of defecating frame, Anatomy of the anus and rectum Defecation is the final act of digestion Digestion is the breakdown of large insoluble food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutri ...
, and helped control the spread of many
waterborne diseases Waterborne diseases are conditions (meaning adverse effects on human health, such as death, disability, illness or disorders) caused by pathogenic microorganism, micro-organisms that are transmitted in water. The study of pathogenic microbes is a ...
. However, unsafe defecation in unimproved latrines still remained a widespread problem by the end of 2020, with more than 3 billion people affected (46 % of the global population). Eradication of this public health threat is one of the United Nations' 17 goals for sustainable development.


Terminology

The word "latrine" is derived from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
''lavatrina'', meaning bath. Today it is commonly used in the term "
pit latrine A pit latrine, also known as pit toilet, is a type of toilet that collects human feces in a hole in the ground. Urine Urine is a liquid by-product of metabolism in humans and in many other animals. Urine flows from the kidneys through the u ...
". It has the connotation of something being less advanced and less hygienic than a standard
toilet A toilet is a piece of sanitary hardware that collects human urine and Human feces, feces, and sometimes toilet paper, usually for disposal. Flush toilets use water, while dry toilet, dry or non-flush toilets do not. They can be designed for ...

toilet
. It is typically used to describe communal facilities, such as the shallow-trench latrines used in
emergency sanitation Emergency sanitation is the management and technical processes required to provide sanitation in emergency situations. Emergency sanitation is required during humanitarian relief operations for refugees, people affected by natural disasters an ...
situations, e.g. after an earthquake, flood or other natural disaster.


Types

Many forms of latrine technology have been used, from very simple to more complex. The more sophisticated the system, the more likely that the term "toilet" is used instead of "latrine".


Pit latrine

A
pit latrine A pit latrine, also known as pit toilet, is a type of toilet that collects human feces in a hole in the ground. Urine Urine is a liquid by-product of metabolism in humans and in many other animals. Urine flows from the kidneys through the u ...
is a simple and inexpensive toilet, minimally defined as a hole (pit) in the ground. More sophisticated pit latrines may include a floor plate, or ventilation to reduce odor and fly and mosquito breeding (called ventilated improved pit latrine or "VIP latrine"). Many military units, if intended for extended use, place basic shelters and seating over the pits. A pit is typically sited well away from any water sources to minimize possible contamination. After prolonged use, a pit is typically buried. Other types of pit latrines may include the
Reed Odourless Earth Closet The Reed odourless earth closet (ROEC) is a variation on the ventilated improved pit (VIP) toilet A toilet is a piece of sanitary hardware that collects human urine and Human feces, feces, and sometimes toilet paper, usually for disposal. Flu ...
, the
arborloo An arborloo is a simple type of composting toilet in which feces are collected in a shallow pit and a fruit tree is later planted in the Soil fertility, fertile soil of the full pit. Arborloos have: a pit like a pit latrine but less deep; a concr ...
or
treebog A treebog is a type of low-tech compost toilet. It consists of a raised platform above a compost pile surrounded by densely planted willow trees or other nutrient-hungry vegetation. It can be considered an example of permaculture design, as it f ...
(very simple types of
composting toilet A composting toilet is a type of dry toilet A dry toilet (or non-flush toilet, no flush toilet or toilet without a flush) is a toilet that operates without flush water, unlike a flush toilet. The dry toilet may have a raised pedestal on which th ...

composting toilet
), or the twin pit pour-flush pit latrine, popularized by
Sulabh International Sulabh International is an India-based social service organization that works to promote human rights, environmental sanitation, non-conventional sources of energy, waste management and social reforms through education. The organization counts 50,0 ...
. The shelter that covers such a pit latrine is known in some
varieties of English Dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two distinct ways to refer to two different types of Linguistics, linguistic phenomena: * One usage refers to ...
as an
outhouse An outhouse is a small structure, separate from a main building, which covers a toilet A toilet is a piece of hardware that collects human and , and sometimes , usually for disposal. use water, while do not. They can be designed f ...

outhouse
.


Trench latrine

In a location without longer term sanitation infrastructure, such as for emergency sanitation, a trench latrine is a workable solution. It typically consists of a pit or a trench in the ground, to deep and to long.


Slit-trench latrine

A slit-trench latrine consists of a relatively shallow trench which is narrow enough to stand with one leg on either side (see
defecation postures Humans use one of two types of defecation postures to defecate Image:Anorectum.gif, frame, Anatomy of the anus and rectum Defecation is the final act of digestion, by which organisms eliminate solid, semisolid, or liquid waste material from t ...
). This type is used either by squatting, with the users' legs straddling the pit, or by various arrangements for sitting or leaning against a support structure. Such support may be simply a log, plank, branch or similar arrangement placed at right angles to the long axis of the pit. This type of latrine is not commonly found in developing countries but can be used for emergency sanitation.


Shallow-trench latrine

The shallow-trench latrine is similar to the slit-trench latrine but is wider (200-300mm wide) than the latter. It is also shallow, with a depth of about 150 mm. This type of latrine is often used in the initial phases of emergencies and is a simple improvement on open defecation fields.  A rule of thumb in emergency sanitation provision is to allow 0.25 m2 of land per person per day. This means 2,500m2 per 10,000 people per day, or nearly two hectares per week. Men's and women's areas should never be separated.


Aqua privy

An aqua privy is essentially a small
septic tank A septic tank is an underground chamber made of concrete, fiberglass, or plastic through which domestic wastewater (sewage) flows for Sewage treatment, basic treatment. Settling and Anaerobic digestion, anaerobic processes reduce solids and org ...

septic tank
located directly below a
dry toilet A dry toilet (or non-flush toilet, no flush toilet or toilet without a flush) is a toilet A toilet is a piece of sanitary hardware that collects human urine and Human feces, feces, and sometimes toilet paper, usually for disposal. Flush toi ...
squatting pan or bowl which has a drop pipe extending below the liquid level in the tank to form a simple water seal to minimise odors.


Most basic

* Campers refer to a
cathole A cathole or cat hole or sometimes pighole is a pit for human feces. Catholes are frequently used for the purpose of disposing of bowel movements or waste water (such as the water from cleaning the kitchen dishes) by hikers and others engaging in ...

cathole
– a one-use, shallow scrape. *
Bucket A bucket is typically a watertight, vertical cylinder A cylinder (from ) has traditionally been a Solid geometry, three-dimensional solid, one of the most basic of curvilinear geometric shapes. Geometrically, it can be considered as a Prism ...

Bucket


See also

*
Emergency sanitation Emergency sanitation is the management and technical processes required to provide sanitation in emergency situations. Emergency sanitation is required during humanitarian relief operations for refugees, people affected by natural disasters an ...
*
Reredorter The reredorter or necessarium (the latter being the original term) was a communal latrine A latrine is a toilet or an even simpler facility that is used as a toilet within a sanitation system. For example, it can be a communal trench in the ...
, medieval monastic latrine


References

{{Toilets Toilets Appropriate technology Sanitation