Human Waste Disposal For The Off-Grid Homestead

City folks don't think about human waste disposal. Yet, on a homestead, sanitation is a critical function that needs attention from day one.

Human Waste Disposal For The Off-Grid Homestead (13:49)

From City Clicker to Homesteader: Why Sanitation Matters Off-Grid

Human sanitation is a top priority for your off-grid homestead. Not only for comfort but also for safety and sanitation.

The same goes for your off-grid hunting camp. The right handling of human waste has many benefits, including:

  • Disease Prevention: Untreated human waste spreads cholera, dysentery, and typhoid. This puts everyone at risk, especially children.
  • Pest Control: Flies and mosquitoes thrive on improper sanitation. Pests increase the spread of disease and make outdoor living unpleasant.
  • Clean Water Protection: Contaminated groundwater from leaky or overflowing systems poisons the very source of life for drinking and cooking.
  • Sustainable Living: Efficient waste management, like composting toilets, creates valuable resources like fertilizer for gardens and crops.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing your waste is managed safely allows you to relax and enjoy the off-grid lifestyle without worrying about hidden dangers.

Even if you don't have an off-grid homestead, human waste sanitation also matters after a natural disaster. Knowing how to build a pit latrine matters.

DIY Disaster Preparedness: Building Your Own Emergency Toilet

Most systems are easy to implement when you know how they work. Yet it is a bit more than digging a hole in the ground..

This video contains a demonstration of a pit toilet from our Correspondent Geoffrey Okeyo in Kenya.

After recent floods, his pit latrine needs repairs. Work was needed before privacy screening, as you can see here.

A pit latrine in Kenya with damage to privacy screen falling down. Hole in ground with rocks around entrance.

Pit Latrine Toilet in Kenya Before Repairs. Source: Geoffrey Okeyo

This design works as a disaster toilet or pit latrine toilet with a urine diverter. A secondary pit creates a compost that can be used in gardens.

  1. Dig a narrow pit. About the diameter of a five-gallon bucket.
  2. Build a stable platform. Setup a sturdy place to stand or sit.
  3. Put up a privacy screen. Use a screen to give users a secure place to poop.
  4. Keep toilet paper dry. Have a container or roof over the latrine.
  5. Provide biomass material. Cover human waste in the pit to prevent smell.
  6. Set up a hand wash station. Use ash or soap to wash hands away from the pit.
  7. Keep your toilet clean. Proper maintenance matters to safety.

In 2023, this is a modern pit latrine design in some areas of Kenya. Another solution is the composting toilet from the Humanure Handbook.

Unfortunately, many still many crap behind a bush. Not every home has a safe toilet for handling human waste.

It is common for hunters to use bush toilets. This kind of bush or camp toilet is common around the world.

Beyond Comfort: The Safety & Health Risks of Improper Waste Disposal

Human excrement spreads diseases like cholera and dysentery. To be more specific, even seasonal hunting camps have the risk of disease outbreak. Risks include:

  • Diarrhoeal Diseases: Cholera, dysentery, and typhoid fever are just a few nasty characters waiting to ambush you (and everyone else) through contaminated water and soil. Think debilitating pain, severe dehydration, and even death.
  • Parasitic Infections: Roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms love feasting on fecal matter. They can invade your intestines, causing malnutrition, anemia, and stunted growth, especially in children.
  • Hepatitis A & E: These nasty viruses love lurking in contaminated water and shellfish. Prepare for nausea, vomiting, fever, and liver damage if you cross their path.

For some odd reason, Racoons like fecal material. A pit latrine is suitable for pet and human waste. Yet it is a starting point only.

The Unfortunate Truth About Pit Latrines

There is a risk of groundwater contamination. Improper sanitation smells bad, attracts flies, and is dangerous to small children. A pit latrine is a start.

There are environmental risks associated with the long-term use of pit latrines. You can start with a post-hole digger and a privacy screen, but don't stop there.

Understand the environmental risk:

  • Water Pollution: Leaky systems and overflow contaminate precious water sources, turning pristine streams into toxic nightmares. Say goodbye to safe drinking water and hello to a potential epidemic.
  • Soil Contamination: Untreated waste pollutes the land, hindering plant growth and poisoning wildlife. Expect barren landscapes and disrupted ecosystems.
  • Air Pollution: Odors from open waste attract flies and mosquitoes, creating a smelly, mosquito-infested nightmare. Prepare for unpleasant outdoor experiences and increased risk of mosquito-borne diseases.
  • Entrapment Risk: Dig your pit latrine too wide and small children are at risk. Animals, including snakes, can take up residence. Someone stepping into a pit latrine can break a leg.

The pit latrine is a common design. This example has a urine diverter to develop fertilizer. In a dry climate, you can use two latrines next to each other to make compost.

However, the best temporary pit latrine is one where you will plant a tree in later. That's because the composting time for human waste is years.

In this episode, you'll discover a practical pit latrine example from Kenya. I also provide feedback on improvements for use worldwide.

Building Better Future: The Importance of Global Sanitation Education

Proper human waste disposal and sanitation are critical to every community. Learn more about off-grid and low-cost sanitation solutions for human waste:

If you'd like to see more content from this permaculture farm in Kenya, note “Geoffrey Okeyo Kenya” when contributing.

NOTE: Contributes to this “Permaculture Correspondent Project” are NOT tax deductible. Correspondents are paid to write content, take videos, and teach classes.

Geoffrey Okeyo is a leader in his village. He teaches raising poultry for meat, clean water, and permaculture principles. Ask him your questions here.

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