Pit Latrines & Toilets of
& Tourism Travel
Traditional Pit Latrines:
toilets or pit latrines are used by over 70% of the rural population
of Gambia and furthermore they prefer to use water instead of
toilet paper. There are generally 3 types of pit latrine.
The first is the flush type in which one would squat with your
feet on a concrete slab or porcelain-type foot-stand and later
flush your waste with a bucket of water. While the second type,
which is more prevalent up-country, consists of a hole in the
ground with a large underground hole.
The third type is the so called Ventilated Improved Pit latrine
(VIP). Often burnt ash is added to the smaller types to reduce
the putrid smell. A small majority of the urban population in
Gambia, about 55% (2007 est.), have now moved away from Pit latrines
and are now using flush lavatories with septic tanks which are
emptied periodically of solid waste.
It is very important when building one in the rural areas to keep
it at least 15 metres away from the nearest borehole or well and
should be at least 3 metres deep. Some Gambians build 2 latrines
next to each other and when one is full it is covered over and
the other is then used. When both a full the first can be re-opended
and the formerly human waste is now compost which can then be
used in the farm as fertiliser.
Meaning of Toilet & Bathroom:
To avoid confusion when you need to relieve yourself, use the
word “toilet” to express both the object and its abode. The word
“bathroom” is quite literal in The Gambia—it is the place you
go for a bath. If you say bathroom when you desperately need a
toilet, you are sure to be in trouble! In urban areas, toilets
are most common in business and hotels; up-country, a hole in
the ground, lined with cement (called a pit latrine) is usually
the way to go. Beware that most toilets do not function correctly
in except in the most upscale of establishments. If you will be
away from the hotel for a few hours, it is advisable to bring
your own toilet paper, as Gambians use water and their left hand.
In some of the eco-lodges they are now using composting toilets
as a more environmentally friendly way of disposing of human waste
and conserving on water supplies as well as minimising detrimental
impacts on the local ecology.
WC's / Flush Toilet Lavatories:
Gambia's toilet and bathing facilities in and around the hotels
and tourist areas are usually
of a decent standard where you will normally find soap and toilet
paper being supplied. This is not always the case with some night
clubs so do be prepared and carry extra tissues with you when
going out. As a general rule the more local the place the dirtier
Bathing Local Style:
the rural areas the vast majority wash using a water filled steel
or plastic bucket, soap and a loofah (loofer) made from the dried
fibres of the baobab, Adansonia
digitata, which is a sour gourd called booy. In the Kombos
people either use the bucket style or showers. It is virtually
unheard of for a Gambian to lie down in a bathtub full of water
and bathe ones-self. The loofer is called Njampeh which
is pretty tough on the skin.