W24 Children’s latrines

SanitationHygieneWater and sanitation

Young children are often afraid to use a latrine. They may be unable to open the door, afraid of the dark or the pit. However, even young children should learn the importance of using either a potty that can be emptied into the latrine or a child’s latrine. Teach young children how to wipe or wash themselves after passing faeces. Girls should be taught to always wipe from front to back to prevent infections.

Many people believe wrongly that the faeces of babies and young children are less harmful than those of adults. In fact they contain many more microbes. Young children often carry many worms in their stomachs and their faeces will often contain worm eggs.

Simple latrines near the home can be made for young children. These should have a shallow pit – about 0.5 metres deep. Cover this with a small slab with a cover for the hole. No walls are needed. Encourage young children to always use this and to replace the cover each time. Add some ashes or soil regularly to control the smell. Move the slab to a new hole once it is nearly full and fill in the used hole with soil. A tree could be planted in the hole!

Discussion
  • Do young children use latrines in our area? If not, why do they not use them? What happens to their faeces?
  • Do we have any traditional beliefs about children’s faeces? How do these beliefs affect our behaviour?
  • Why is it important for children to learn the importance of using a latrine?
  • What kind of fears do children here have about using latrines? Why are these fears sometimes justified? How can we respond to these fears?
  • How can we encourage the use of children’s latrines in our area?
  • At what age should children be able to use an adult latrine?
  • Are there any opportunities for us to help young children to learn about the importance of using latrines?
  • Does the school have latrines for boys and girls? How can we work together to provide or improve the latrines in our local school?