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Steps of usage of the arborloo.
Arborloo in Ekwendeni, Malawi

An arborloo is a simple type of composting toilet in which feces are collected in a shallow pit and a fruiting tree is later planted in the fertile soil of the full pit. Arborloos have a pit like a pit latrine but less deep, a concrete slab, superstructure (toilet house or outhouse) to provide privacy and possibly a ring beam to protect the pit from collapsing.[1]

The arborloo works by temporarily putting the slab and superstructure above a shallow pit while this pit fills. When the pit is nearly full, the superstructure and slab is moved to a newly dug pit and the old pit is covered with the earth got by digging the new pit and left to compost. The old pit serves as a bed for a fruit tree or some other useful vegetation, which is preferably planted during the rainy season.[2]

The arborloo is a type of dry toilet. In using the nutrient-rich soil of a retired pit, the arborloo, in effect, treats feces as a resource rather than a waste product.[3][4] Arborloos are used in rural areas of many developing countries, for example in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Ethiopia.[1]


The defecation pit may be circular or square and this may depend on the slab and superstructure. A circular pit is less likely to collapse.[5] The pit of the arborloo is shallow (between 1-1.5 meter).[2]

A squat slab covering the drop hole of an Arborloo in Malawi. The slab can be rolled from one location to the next.

If the pit is dug by hand it must have a diameter of at least 0.9 meters to accommodate effective digging.[6] The pit should not be wider than the slab and must allow for 0.1 meter bearing around the edge.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Toilets That Make Compost". Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  2. ^ a b Morgan, Peter (2007). Toilets that make compost: Low-cost, sanitary toilets that produce valuable compost for crops in an African context. Stockholm: EcoSanRes Programme. ISBN 978-9-197-60222-8.
  3. ^ Winblad, Uno (et al.) (2004). Ecological Sanitation. Ecosanres Program of the Stockholm Environment Institute.
  4. ^ Jönsson; et al. (2004). Guidelines on the Use of Urine and Faeces in Crop Production. 35p. Ecosanres Program of the Stockholm Environment Institute.
  5. ^ WEDC (2012). An engineer's guide to latrine slabs (PDF). Loughborough University: WEDC. p. 4. ISBN 978 1 84380 143 6.
  6. ^ a b CAWST (2011). Introduction to Low Cost Sanitation Latrine Construction. CAWST: Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology. p. 16.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Arborloo at Wikimedia Commons