This week, as I was walking home from school, I began noticing something odd. Many houses, besides the recently built government homes, had a newly dug hole, surrounded by white rubble, with a white plastic cylinder sticking out of it. Most were near the pit latrines, so I assumed a family or two was getting a new toilet. I started counting….and every single home, including mine, had a hole. Then I realized that the government was obviously providing new pit latrines to each family, presumably village-wide.
When I went home, I looked in our yard and found the hole, and EISH it was deep! The plastic cylinder goes down down down to a rocky bottom, and will apparently contain all future poo.
I had thought that a pit latrine, like the one at my place, was considered “proper sanitation”. It is essentially an outhouses, is clean, and doesn’t stink. But apparently there is no barrier between the ground and the latrine, or if there is, it’s inadequate. I’ve been living at this place for nine months, without proper sanitation. Makes me second guess drinking from the yard tap, rather than the communal taps around the village.
Honestly, I’m not sure I like this change. Yes, development and proper sanitation is great, but I’ll miss my stone throne (what I call the current pit latrine). My stone throne is nice, usually clean, and doesn’t smell, as I mentioned earlier. It doesn’t have a door, but that means I don’t feel trapped in with the bugs, spiders, bats, etc. And don’t worry, even without a door, you can’t see in from the outside. I used the RDP toilets (Rural Development Programme/Project) at my homestay during PST, and it was tiny and didn’t smell the best because there was no ventilation inside the latrine! I also felt very trapped in when the door was closed and was afraid of making a quick escape if a big spider (read as tarantula) showed up.
I’m not really complaining about a free toilet, but I’ll miss my stone throne. Why don’t I just keep using that? My host family would freak out a bit, and wonder why the lekgoa wouldn’t use the nice, new toilet. Of course, it’s a farther walk from my door, so in emergencies I may still end up using my stone throne.
Yes, I really did just blog about pit latrines. Village life, ‘nuff said. Readjusted back to the slow African life!