Dry Toilet

A dry toilet is a toilet that operates without flushwater. The dry toilet may be a raised pedestal on which the user can sit, or a squat pan over which the user squats. In both cases, excreta (both urine and faeces) fall through a drop hole.

Here, a dry toilet refers specifically to the device over which the user sits or squats. In other literature, a dry toilet may refer to a variety of technologies, or combinations of technologies (especially pits).Design Considerations

The dry toilet is usually placed over a pit; if two pits are used, the pedestal or slab should be designed in such a way that it can be lifted and moved from one pit to another.

The slab or pedestal base should be well sized to the pit so that it is both safe for the user and prevents stormwater from infiltrating the pit (which may cause it to overflow). The hole can be closed with a lid to prevent unwanted intrusion from insects or rodents.

Pedestals and squatting slabs can be made locally with concrete (providing that sand and cement are available). Fibreglass, porcelain and stainless steel versions may also be available. Wooden or metal moulds can be used to produce several units quickly and efficiently.


Dry toilets are easy for almost everyone to use though special consideration may need to be made for elderly or disabled users who may have difficulty. When dry toilets are made locally, they can be specially designed to meet the needs of the target users (e.g., smaller ones for children). Because there is no need to separate urine and faeces, they are often the simplest and physically most comfortable option.

Health Aspects/Acceptance

Squatting is a natural position for many people and so a well-kept squatting slab may be the most acceptable option.

Since dry toilets do not have a water seal, odours may be a problem depending on the Collection and Storage/Treatment technology (see http://ecompendium.sswm.info/sanitation-technologies) connected to them.

Operation & Maintenance

The sitting or standing surface should be kept clean and dry to prevent pathogen/disease transmission and to limit odours.

There are no mechanical parts; therefore, the dry toilet should not need repairs except in the event that it cracks.


Further Readings

  • Cover image of a reference book or miscellany.

    MONVOIS, J.; GABERT, J.; FRENOUX, C.; GUILLAUME, M. (2010): How to Select Appropriate Technical Solutions for Sanitation. Cotonou and Paris: Partenariat pour le Développement Municipal (PDM) and Programme Solidarité Eau (pS-Eau). URL [Accessed: 19.10.2011]. PDF

    The purpose of this guide is to assist local contracting authorities and their partners in identifying those sanitation technologies best suited to the different contexts that exist within their town. The first part of the guide contains a planning process and a set of criteria to be completed; these assist you in characterizing each area of intervention so that you are then in a position to identify the most appropriate technical solutions. The second part of the guide consists of technical factsheets which give a practical overview of the technical and economic characteristics, the operating principle and the pros and cons of the 29 sanitation technology options most commonly used in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Cover image of a reference book or miscellany.

    MORGAN, P.; EcoSanRes (Editor) (2007): Toilets That Make Compost . Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute. PDF

    This book describes in an easy-to-understand and picture-based way how to construct three different low cost sanitation solutions, namely arborloos, fossa alterna and urine diversion toilets.

  • Cover image of a reference book or miscellany.

    MORGAN, P.; EcoSanRes (Editor) (2009): Ecological Toilets. (pdf presentation). Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute. PDF

    This book describes how to construct Arborloo toilets and how it can be upgraded to VIPs at a later stage.