Dry Latrines

Dry Latrines
ENTRY DATE: 04 May 2015| LAST UPDATE: 04 May 2015
Categories: Water Resources | Health and hygiene
Technological Maturity: Applicable immediately
Technology Owners:
  • Communities
  • Private implementing agencies
Needs Addressed
  • Increased capacity and resilience in water management regimes
  • Conservation of water resources
  • Traditional methods of water management
Adaptation Effects

Reduce need for water to operate and maintain latrines, therefore providing more water for alternative livelihood activities

Overview and Features

Simple and low cost latrines that operate with no water, therefore enabling available water sources to be used for alternative needs and producing fertilisers for agricultural use. Ideal for outdoor environments where there is connection to a mains water supply. Operate either based on dry defecation or with a urine separation mechanism.

Figure: Vietnamese Compost Latrine (Source: Depledge, 1997)


Costs for the technology are low as they rely on locally available materials and low maintenance costs

Energy Source

Human resources for construction and maintenance only

Ease of Maintenance
  • Regular cleaning with a damp cloth is essential due to lack of water
  • Maintenance is fairly simple and straightforward if managed appropriately
Technology Performance
  • Performance is strongly dependent on operation and maintenance for heightened hygiene and reduced odour
  • Functional in various environments
  • Reduced groundwater contamination due to disposal of urine and faeces
Considerations (technology transfer criteria, challenges, etc.)
  • Application of wood ash, lime, dry earth, etc. reduces the moisture content of the resulting fertiliser and ash and lime increase the pH to destroy pathogens
  • Faeces and urine require storage for some time before application as fertiliser
  • Demonstration and training are necessary for new users and to secure their acceptance
  • Suitable for dry climates with high temperatures and evaporation rates and short rainfall periods
  • Management responsibility must be clarified for proper operation and sustainability
Co-benefits, Suitability for Developing Countries
  • Eco-friendly
  • Provides organic fertiliser or agricultural use
  • Land tenure for construction necessary
  • Traditional technology in e.g. Vietnam and therefore more easily accepted and sustainable
  • Locally available materials and labour can be used for construction
  • Usable for all types of users
  • Acceptance and adoption relies upon social acceptability, comfort of use and people’s hygiene routines
  • Suitable in urban and rural contexts
  • Equity in access to community toilets must be addressed
Information Resources

Depledge, D. 1997. Design Examples of Waterless Composting Toilets. SOPAC Miscellaneous Report 249. Available from: http://www.pacificwater.org/userfiles/file/mr0249.pdf [20 January 2015]

Tilley, E., Ulrich, L., Luethi, C., Reymond, P. and Zurbruegg, C. 2014. Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies. 2nd Revised Edition. Duebendorf, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). Available from: http://www.susana.org/en/resources/library/details/454 [20 January 2015]

Scott, E. 2002. Dry Sanitation Solutions. Journal of Rural and Remote Environmental Health 1(2): 23-25. Available from: http://www.jcu.edu.au/jrtph/vol/v01scott2.pdf [20 January 2015]