An investigation of the effect of pit latrine additives on VIP latrine sludge content under laboratory and field trials

  • BF Bakare
  • CJ Brouckaert
  • KM Foxon
  • CA Buckley
Keywords: additives, digestion, pit content, sludge, public health, VIP latrine


Sludge content in VIP latrines is degraded mainly under anaerobic conditions and the process is relatively slow. At varying stages of digestion within pit latrines, sludge accumulates and odour and fly nuisance may occur which could pose risks to public health and the environment. Management of accumulated sludge in pit latrines has been a major problem facing a number of municipalities in South Africa and is also a global issue. Manufacturers of various commercial pit latrine additives claim that by addition of this product to pit content, accumulation rate and pit content volume can be reduced, thereby preventing the pit from ever reaching capacity. This paper presents a comprehensive study conducted to determine the effects of additives on pit contents under laboratory and field conditions. By conducting both laboratory and field trials, it was possible to identify whether there is any acceleration of mass or volume stabilisation as a result of additive addition, and whether any apparent effect is a result of biodegradation or of compaction. The results indicated that neither laboratory trials nor field trials provided any evidence that the use of pit additives has any beneficial effect on pit contents. The reasons why additives seem to not have any beneficial effects are also discussed.

Keywords: additives, digestion, pit content, sludge, public health, VIP latrine


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eISSN: 0378-4738