A sanitation policy provides the framework within which efforts to improve sanitation can move from isolated projects to national programmes. But policy can only make a difference if people own it and are prepared to implement it.
Pit latrine linings for emergency sanitation facilities require different performance criteria from those for pits used in longer-term development work. Various international initiatives are currently under way to develop new methods of supporting the pits used for latrines in emergencies, but before a solution can be found, the problem needs to be defined. Current field guidance lacks the level of detail required by humanitarian workers to construct durable pits in a timely manner. Consultations with international humanitarian field staff and UK-based geotechnical engineers were used in this research project to identify design, construction, and operational requirements of emergency pit-lining systems. However, rather than closely defined performance requirements, the study identified a wide range of criteria that need to be considered and clear distinctions between emergency and longer-term solutions. Latrines constructed in the initial stages of emergencies are likely to be communal, with long rectangular pits that require frequent emptying. Current knowledge of suitable pit support methods is sufficient to provide a limited range of standard designs that could be selected to meet local requirements.