How to Build Emergency Camp Toilets

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How To Build Emergency Camp Toilets

Short Description

  • Problem: Preventing disease in refugee camps, third world countries, and for highly mobile populations
  • Idea: Provide temporary sanitation facilities
  • Difficulty: easy to medium
  • Price Range: free to US $50 (depending on scope)
  • Material Needed: depends on application
  • Geographic Area: global
  • Competencies: none required
  • How Many people? 1 to 5 people
  • How Long does it take? depends on application


STEP 1: Select site of construction.

• Garbage and soakage pits should be at least 30 meters from food service.

• Latrine should be as far as possible from food service (100 meters or more is best).

• Latrine should be located on level ground. Never uphill from the campsite or water supplies.

STEP 2: Construct disposal facility.

STEP 3: Inspect daily to make sure that the following is done:

• Waste is collected and transported to an approved disposal facility.

• Straddle trench latrines and garbage pits are covered with dirt daily.

• Pail latrines are emptied and cleaned daily.

• Burn-out latrine containers are rotated and contents burned daily.

• Facilities (not the contents) are sprayed with insecticide for fly control when other control techniques fail.

STEP 4: Close improvised latrines and garbage pits when filled to within 1 foot of the ground surface. Have chemical toilet contents removed daily.

Close out by:

• Spraying with residual insecticide.

• Packing earth in successive 3-inch layers until mounded 1 foot above ground level. Spraying again with residual insecticide.

• Posting a sign stating, “Closed latrine/garbage pit and date”.


Success Story

Plans, Illustrations, Posters

NOTE: Measurements in diagrams are in US standard units (Feet and Inches).

• Garbage pit: Used to prevent accumulation of garbage in the campsite area. NOTE Garbage and rubbish should be transported to an approved landfill or must be buried or burned. If buried for short stays, cover daily. For longer periods, garbage and rubbish may have to be burned; however, the ashes should be buried.

Garbage Pit

• Soakage pit/trench: Used to prevent accumulation of liquid waste (water from showers, sinks, and field kitchens).

Soakage Pit / Soakage Trench

• Grease trap: Used with both soakage pit and trench to prevent clogging of soil.

Grease Trap

• Cat-hole latrine: Used only on the move (if individual waste collection bags are not available) and covered immediately after use.

Cat-hole Latrine

• Chemical toilets: Used as the standard field latrine.

Chemical Toilets

• Straddle trench latrine: Used on short bivouacs. Two trenches per 100 males and three trenches per 100 females.

Straddle Trench Latrine

• Deep pit latrine: Used for longer periods of time and in built-up areas. NOTE If ground is too hard for digging, or if the water table is too high, use a pail latrine or a burn-out latrine.

Deep Pit Latrine

• Pail latrine: Use where water table is too close to the surface of the ground for digging a deep pit latrine.

Pail Latrine

• Burn-out latrine: Use where water table is too close to the surface of the ground for digging a pit latrine, or stay is for an extended period.

Burn Latrine

• Urinals: For male latrines, construct one of the following urinals: trough urinal, pipe urinal, or urinoil. Trough Urinal

Pipe Urinal




FM 21-10 MCRP 4-11.1D FIELD HYGIENE AND SANITATION Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited. You can find the original of this article at [1]


This Article was initiated by ~~~~ Notice: The author accepts no responsibility for the safety of a construction or the correctness of the article


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