MKVK MYRADA KrishiVigyan Kendra
Talamalai, Talavadi 638 461.
Erode District
Participatory Intervention Series
Paper 1
Pit Latrines For Public Sanitation:
A Frontline Demonstration Effort
The concept of pit latrines is not new to the world. It was however, new to the people of Talavadi when MYRADA KrishiVigyan Kendra (MKVK) first broached the subject with them. Amongst other programmes our Home Science Wing (consisting of one staff member) and the MYRADA field staff had decided sometime ago that an intervention had to be made with regard to the poor sanitary conditions in villages. In particular, the widely prevalent practice of defecating in public places was not just a health hazard but also an unseemly sight and an indication of the absence of the value of civic sense. This had been discussed from time to time in village meetings with nothing concrete by way of action had emerged yet. There is a general lack of concern among people about exposed excreta. However, in crowded villages where secluded spots and vegetative cover for privacy are becoming scarce, outdoor defecation is becoming problematic and a desire for change seems to be building up especially among women.

Pourflush (waterseal) latrines are being promoted and subsidised by the Government but annual quotas are limited, the works have to be pre-financed (approximately Rs.2500/-) before claiming the subsidy (Rs.1500/-) there are several procedural delays in obtaining sanctions and executing the works and maintenance is poor.

Pit Latrines? The first line of resistance came from the field staff themselves. “It smells”, “It will fill up fast”, “It cannot be cleaned”, were common arguments. It took one year to persuade the staff to visit Holalkere in Karnataka, where some families had been persuaded by MYRADA to go in for pit latrines. This visit resulted in some change of attitude.

The subject was then taken up for discussion in the self help groups. After 3 weeks of intensive campaigning, ParvathiAmmal, belonging to a self help group in Tamarakarai (Bargur Sector) hesitantly agreed to be the first to take it up. Her husband opposed her strongly but she felt she had to do it as she has also been trained by MKVK as a health promoter. She also agreed because one of the MYRADA field workers who had rented a room in her house assured her that he would also use the same latrine.

ParvathiAmmal’s pit latrine turned out to be a model for the village. When MYRADA conducts training programmes for self-help group members in Bargur Sector, ParvathiAmmal cooks in her house and serves food to all the trainees. In this way a large number of people got the opportunity to see her latrine. Around 8 weeks after her latrine started being used, 15 more families came forward with their applications.
Details :
1st Design
Small Orifice
2nd Design
Larger OrificeMarkings to place feet
3rd Design
½ inch slope in front for urine to flow back
4t (proposed) Design
Slabs to place feet like in a modern toilet
No Smell!
No Cleaning!!
Takes Years to Fill!!! Costs:
Slab: Rs.225=00 (MKVK Contribution)
Pit digging, Slab Fixing, Thatch Around Lavatory: Rs. 80=00 (People’s Contribution)
Now the programme is spreading to other villages also. There are still a few staff who are hesitant about pit latrines, and many families are still resistant to the idea of having a latrine close to the house, for cultural reasons. The present position is as follows:
Latrines Built Latrines in Use Pending Applications
Bargur 104 92 20
Kadambur 23 23 5
Manipuram 15 15 7
Arepalyam 20 10 30
Total 162 140 62
Meanwhile, the design of the slab has undergone a few changes as illustrated, based on feedback received from the users. Recently the staff discussed ideas on how the programme could be further accelerated. They felt that the latrine should be promoted as a status symbol in order to gain wider acceptance. It remains to be seen whether this approach will work better.