Community Faecal Management Strategies and Perceptions on Sludge Use in Agriculture

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jun 10;17(11):4128. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17114128.


Most people in rural areas in South Africa (SA) rely on untreated drinking groundwater sources and pit latrine sanitations. A minimum basic sanitation facility should enable safe and appropriate removal of human waste, and although pit latrines provide this, they are still contamination concerns. Pit latrine sludge in SA is mostly emptied and disposed off-site as waste or buried in-situ. Despite having knowledge of potential sludge benefits, most communities in SA are reluctant to use it. This research captured social perceptions regarding latrine sludge management in Monontsha village in the Free State Province of SA through key informant interviews and questionnaires. A key informant interview and questionnaire was done in Monontsha, SA. Eighty participants, representing 5% of all households, were selected. Water samples from four boreholes and four rivers were analyzed for faecal coliforms and E.coli bacteria. On average, five people in a household were sharing a pit latrine. Eighty-three percent disposed filled pit latrines while 17% resorted to closing the filled latrines. Outbreaks of diarrhoea (69%) and cholera (14%) were common. Sixty percent were willing to use treated faecal sludge in agriculture. The binary logistic regression model indicated that predictor variables significantly (p ˂ 0.05) described water quality, faecal sludge management, sludge application in agriculture and biochar adaption. Most drinking water sources in the study had detections ˂ 1 CFU/100 mL. It is therefore imperative to use both qualitative surveys and analytical data. Awareness can go a long way to motivate individuals to adopt to a new change.

Keywords: bacteria pollution; biochar; faecal sludge; pit latrine; water quality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sanitation
  • Sewage
  • South Africa
  • Toilet Facilities
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid*


  • Sewage