Alternative Sanitation in Protracted Emergencies

Grant awarded: £191,446

Lead organisation: National Foundation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Partnering organisations: Oxfam UK; UNHCR

Project length: 2014-2016

Study locations: Ethiopia

Principal Investigator: Thomas Handzel, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The overall objective of this project is to determine the safety and acceptability of Urine-Diversion Toilets (UDTs) in a large field setting in order to offer guidance on their use in humanitarian crises. Poor management of human waste can lead to the spread of potentially deadly diseases such as cholera, which can spread particularly quickly in cramped, temporary settings such as refugee camps. UDTs could be an effective solution in difficult environments where pit latrines are impractical.

Expected outcomes:

The findings of the research will help UNHCR and other agencies determine whether UDTs, as currently designed, are an appropriate intervention in this type of setting. It will make recommendations on how to improve their effectiveness, and produce findings and guidelines that will help to scale up installations of UDTs in the future. Greater use of UDTs could help improve sustainability and health outcomes in the longer term in humanitarian crises.


Elrha is hosted by Save the Children, a registered charity in England and Wales (213890) and Scotland (SC039570).

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