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

An Arborloo is a simple type of dry toilet consisting of a pit (like a pit latrine, but less deep), concrete slab, superstructure (toilet house or outhouse) to provide privacy and possibly a ring beam to protect the pit from collapsing.

The concept of the arborloo toilet is to collect feces in a pit, and subsequently to grow a tree such as a fruiting tree in this very fertile soil.

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 site uses a bed for fruit tree or other, which is preferably planted during the rainy season.[1]

The arborloo can be considered a simple form of composting 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.


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.[2] The pit of the arborloo is shallow (between 1-1.5 meter).[1]

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.[3] The pit should not be wider than the slab and must allow for 0.1 meter bearing around the edge.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ WEDC (2012). An engineer's guide to latrine slabs (PDF). Loughborough University: WEDC. p. 4. ISBN 978 1 84380 143 6. 
  3. ^ a b CAWST (2011). Introduction to Low Cost Sanitation Latrine Construction. CAWST: Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology. p. 16. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Arborloo at Wikimedia Commons