What to Know About Pit Toilets

Pit toilets, also known as pit latrines, are a medium for sanitation management. It involves utilizing a hole in the ground to store human excreta. It is usually accentuated by a toilet seat or squatting pan for the user’s comfort.

They are one of the most affordable and practical way of instilling sanitation management  in various places, especially places with no constant source of water. They are built to function without water, and are mainly used in areas with frequent water shortages.

Pit latrines can be used up to 10 to 15 years; however, this can be shortened depending on the amount of excreta it can hold. Once the pit is filled, it is usually buried and relocated somewhere else. But nowadays, the pits can be emptied to and reused again.

Pit Toilets in Pathogen Exposure Reduction

Pit latrines are specifically designed not to reduce pathogen concentration, but to simply collect fecal material, limiting human and environmental exposure; however, it does aid in the reduction of pathogen exposure in humans, eliminating the need for many people to openly defecate in various places.

Open defecation, after all, risk the formation and growth of pathogens. These pathogens are usually the cause of many diseases and outbreaks; hence, pit toilets generally aid in the prevention of these diseases.


Once the pit is filled, there are two options in disposing its contents.

  1. Burying the pit
  2. Draining the pit

In the past, pit latrines are usually buried once full. People, then, build another pit in a different location after the old one has been buried. But due to technology advancements, pumping equipment were invented, enabling the pits to be drained upon reaching their maximum storage capacity. Once drained, the fecal matter from the pit is collected and treated either to be used as organic matter or be disposed properly.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Pit Toilets

Easily built and repairedRequires little budget to constructOnly a small land area is requiredSomewhat improves sanitation managementCan be used without waterShelter carries a foul smellLow reduction rate in pathogensPossible contamination of groundwaterPit emptying is often done in a very unsafe manner