Flying toilets are particularly associated with slums surrounding Nairobi, Kenya, especially Kibera. According to a report from the United Nations Development Programme launched in Cape Town on November 9, 2006, "two in three people [in Kibera] identify the flying toilet as the primary mode of excreta disposal available to them." This contradicts a Kenyan government report which indicates that 99% of Nairobi residents have access to a sanitation service. The UNDP report blames a taboo against bureaucrats and politicians discussing toilets, while others see a reluctance among the Nairobi authorities to formalize what they characterize as an "illegal settlement."
Piles of polyethene bags gather on roofs and attract flies. Some of them burst open upon impact and/or clog drainage systems. If they land on fractured water pipes, a drop in water pressure can cause the contents to be sucked into the water system. People can also be hit by the bags as they are blindly tossed. In the rainy season, drainage including excrement can enter residences; some children even swim in it. Such close contact leads to fears of diseases such as diarrhea, skin disorders, typhoid fever and malaria.
The practice of defecating outside, away from one's house, especially in the dark, causes concern for one's personal safety as well, especially among girls and women.
Several non-profit organizations have launched a "Stop Flying Toilets" campaign, using a winged logo and sponsoring races with famous Kenyan marathon runners. The construction of three sanitation blocks containing modern toilets in Kiambiu, a Nairobi slum with 40,000 to 50,000 residents, has reduced the use of flying toilets, and thereby reduced clogging in the drainage system and outbreaks of cholera and diarrhea. The modern toilets, constructed by Maji na Ufanisi, a non-governmental organization based in Nairobi, require a fee to use, but have been quite popular. Similar blocks are being planned for Kibera.
A related concept is the "trucker bomb", in which a person urinates into a plastic jug and throws it. As its name implies, it is common among truckers, who use plastic containers to urinate between breaks and do not take the time to dispose of them properly.
- iafrica.com article
- "The taboo that kills 2 million kids a year" November 10, 2006
- Betty Tett, assistant minister for housing, quoted in IPS article
- "Clean water is a right", The Economist, November 9, 2006
- Silas Okoth, chairman of the Kiambiu Usafi (Cleanliness in Kiambiu) Group, quoted in IPS article
- Teresia Kamene, resident of Matopeni, quoted in IPS article
- Vincent Njuguna, project officer at the Network for Water and Sanitation (NETWAS) based in Nairobi, quoted in IPS article
- Maharaj, David. "Squalor everywhere, but still this is a neighborhood" Los Angeles Times. July 16, 2004.
- Daily Nation, December 22, 2009: ‘Flying toilets’ to blame for crash
- Llanos, Miguel (June 2, 2005). Urine trouble, some states warn truckers. msnbc.com. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
- "Flying Toilets Still Airborne": Article at Inter Press Service News Agency
- "Kibera: Home of the Flying Toilet": Article on iafrica.com
- UNDP report on sanitation, page 38-39 is a sidebar "The 'flying toilets' of Kibera—the severe neglect of water and sanitation coverage in poor areas of Nairobi"
- "Flying Toilets", Photo essay on the Flying Toilets and the AMREF Health Center on BBC