Pit Latrines & Toilets of
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.
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
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:
The 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 the toilets.
Bathing Local Style:
In the rural areas the vast majority
wash using a water filled steel or plastic bucket, soap and a loofah (loofer) made from the
fibres of the baobab, Adansonia digitata, which is a sour gourd called
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.