Composting Toilet & Latrine Technology in Developing Countries

Typical Double Vault Composting Toilet (Source:, USAID 1982)

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Things to Consider
Composting Factors
Urine Diverting
Related Links & Sources
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  • Check out the things to consider before proceeding by clicking the button to the left.
  • Learn more about composting factors important to producing a safe compost by clicking button to the left.
  • Learn more about the importance of urine diverting for composting toilets by clicking button to the left.
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Description of Composting Toilets

Composting Toilets are similar to Pit Latrines in that they require no water to function and they collect human waste.  They are different in that composting toilets are usually elevated with two separate bins and tend to cost twice as much as pit latrines.   Only one bin is used at a time.  Typically, one bin is full and composting while the other is in use.  After 12-24 months, the contents are removed and deposited to a specified area, sold as fertilizer or applied directy to agricultural fields or home gardens.  If properly composted, the material will appear dark, rich and earthy.

One objective of the composting toilet is to contain, immobilize or destroy microorganisms and pathogens that cause human disease or contaminate the environment.  This is acheived by the organisms present in the compost pile.  These organisms raise the tempurature of the pile to the point that most of the disease-causing organisms and pathogens are killed.  They also directly pursue these organisms and consume them for energy.  Composting toilets have the added benefit of biologically changing the waste into a form of humus that is high in organic compounds and can be spread over a garden or farm field to improve productivity and soil structure.  This sanitation technology is an ecological and usually economical way to deal with human waste, save water resources, and fertilize your crops.