Access to basic sanitation is a right enshrined in the Constitution.  However, the reality is often very different.  Sanitation options in South Africa range from full-flush waterborne sanitation to no sanitation facilities at all, with ventilated pit latrines and bucket toilets in between.


Flush toilets are far more common in urban areas, where the cost of implementing and maintaining such systems is offset by the number of households to which delivery is made, and which pay for these services.  In rural areas, pit toilets are more common.  Sanitation planners and engineers tend to think of only these two options. 


However, the Department of Science and Technology and the Water Research Commission are testing technologies that will bridge the gap between these two.


An innovative solution, low pour flush technology, which combines the advantages of waterborne and ventilated improved pit latrines and eliminates their disadvantages, was developed and piloted between 2014 and 2016 in the Eastern Cape (Chris Hani District Municipality), the Northern Cape (Kheis Local Municipality) and Mpumalanga (Mkhondo Local Municipality). 


The improved sanitation improves the quality of life in the area.  The toilets use less water than full-flush toilets, and are safe for the elderly and children.  They are not expensive or difficult to maintain, and need no special equipment to clean.


The low pour flush toilets incorporate twin leach pits, with filling rates of four to six years, depending on the number of people using the toilet and the ground conditions.  When the first pit is full the toilet is connected to the second pit, which will then take a similar period to fill. The first pit must then be emptied before it can be reused, but can be emptied manually without difficulty, as by this time its contents will have decomposed to be of considerably lower volume, and an almost odourless peat-like material.


Members in the community where the low pour flush system was introduced received health and hygiene education, and the communities were involved in the provision of security and accommodation, community liaison, the transport of materials, labour for the sites, the construction of the leach pits and the installation of the structures.  On average, 60 people are employed at each demonstration site.


Given the amount of work needed for each site, municipalities have recommended that the project be carried out on a large scale where possible in order to derive maximum benefit.


Low Pour Flush video


For more information contact:


Water Research Commission

012 761 9300