Anyone who has ever used an open latrine can
identify its shortcomings: there's a frightful stench and flies
buzz around you. For a child that fears falling into the
threatening hole, it is an especially frightening experience.
The utterly basic need to be able to rid oneself
of his/her natural waste products comes to be a daily struggle
against an inate opposition towards something that is absolutely
dreadful. And for many children, this is something that quite
simply elicits a sense of anxiety. They find other places to
defecate - and this, in turn, poses yet another hygiene-related
This is part of everyday life for millions of
people all over the globe who are residing in the world's refugee
camps, rural villages and slum areas.
Motivated by this basic need, the designer Peter
Bysted from the design consultancy, ICONO, and Professor Peter Kjær
Mackie Jensen, head of the Disaster Management Master's program at
the University of Copenhagen, have collaboratively developed a
vision that is centred on creating a child-friendly latrine, which
ought to help to diminish faecal-oral diseases through the
fabrication of a safe and accepted place for children to use.
Every 20 seconds, a child dies - somewhere - of diarrhoea; as a
consequence of poor hygienic conditions where diseases are
transmitted through fecal-oral routes. This adds up to 1.5 million
child deaths per year that are to a great extent preventable. It's
often the case that the children themselves are the ones who spread
the disease because they quite simply do not dare to make use of
the antediluvian latrines that typically constitute the sum total
of toilet facilities provided in refugee camps, in rural villages
and in the world's slum quarters.
Inside a conventional latrine, there's generally nothing other
than a deep pit that has been dug into the earth. Laid over this
pit is a crude squatting board made of either concrete or wood with
a hole cut in the middle through which the user can relive
him/herself. The latrine's contents can be smelled and seen, while
flies and other insects have full access. Moreover, the materials
chosen for constructing the latrine often prove to be difficult to
clean, only further aggravating the poor hygienic situation and
making room for pathogenic helminths and their eggs.
"One of the major reasons why children do not use existing
latrines is that they are simply afraid of falling down into the
ghastly hole. We're trying to solve this problem by supplying the
drain hole with an airtight and smooth seal. We're also aiming at
making it possible for mothers and children to be together at the
same time inside the space," explains Peter Kjær Mackie Jensen,
head of the Disaster Management Master's program at the University
A hanging latrine in Haiti.
• 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases
90% of these people are children under the age of 5, who reside
chiefly in developing countries.
• 88% of diarrhoeal disease can be attributed to unsafe water
supply, inadequate sanitation and hygiene.
• Improved water supply can reduce diarrhoeal morbidity by 6% to
• Improved sanitation reduces diarrhoeal morbidity by 32%.
• Hygiene interventions including hygiene education and promotion
of hand washing can lead to a reduction of diarrhoeal cases by up
• Improvements in drinking-water quality through household water
treatment, such as chlorination at point-of-use, can lead to a
reduction of diarrhoeal episodes between 35% and 39%.
For more information: See: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/facts2004/en/