According to the Joint Monitoring Program (JMP), approximately 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities, with 1.1 billion still practicing open defecation (UNICEF and WHO, 2012). Knowledge and practice of critical hygiene behaviors, such as hand washing after toilet use, are also widely lacking. Consequently, the ingestion of faecal pathogens from contaminated food and water resources as well as faecal- oral transmission are a leading cause of disease and preventable death, especially in children under five years.The effects of inadequate sanitation, hygiene and resulting diarrheal disease are dramatic: in 2010, the
World Health Organization (WHO) reported that worldwide the impact of diarrheal disease on children is greater than the impacts of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, combined. Due to their relative affordability and simple and waterless operation, pit latrines are common in developing and transitional countries. However, pit latrines can spread faecal contamination to water resources, especially in associated with faecal sludge removal or excavation of new pits when emptying is not feasible.
Increasingly, limited water supplies and the high cost of construction of wastewater infrastructure make sewer- based sanitation impractical in many regions. Water-based systems dilute excreta and create large waste water streams that necessitate the construction of technologically complex and expensive treatment facilities. It is estimated that 90% of all wastewater in developing countries is discharged untreated directly into water bodies (Corcoran et al., 2010), a clear indication that sewer-based sanitation is not a viable solution for many parts of the world. Moreover, pharmaceutical residues in treated wastewater could have negative impacts on human health, and lead to the evolution of resistant strains of microbes. Expectations and attitudes surrounding sanitation are widely variable and influenced by both societal norms and personal preference. While improved hygienic standards, reduced contaminant impact and minimization of water usage may be the goal of sanitation practitioners, toilet users generally strive to improve their current sanitation situation with regards to odour, insect infestations, privacy, comfort and ‘prestige’.
The UDDT is a dry excreta management system that, since the late-1990s, is seen as a viable alternative to pit latrines and flush toilets in developing countries and developed countries respectively. However, significant barriers to more universal acceptance of this technology remain. To date, a general lack of awareness, a limited supply of prefabricated UDDT components and a low interest in financing sanitation services, have all acted as impediments to the construction of UDDTs.