Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Latrine – the Good, the Bad, and the Stinky

Have you ever been away from home, say, in the countryside or on vacation, and suddenly, your stomach started making protest? You feel that the tingle coming on in your belly. Your stomach cramps up, and feel like curling on wherever you are and wait for the pain to pass? Or maybe you run to the nearest toilet and camp there until your stomach decides not to torture you anymore. But what if there isn't any toilet or latrine nearby? Well, this nice little commercial tells exactly that story.

As with any other living being out there, consuming food for energy is one of the most important tasks that we have to do. After all the delicious, nutritious energy intake, generating waste is a must. Of course, what goes in must come out. It has become such an essential and automated part of our daily lives that rarely do we ever pause to count how many times we have to defecate or urinate.
There, a problem arises. Where should people defecate? Surely you can’t possibly do it right inside or next to your home. Not only would you home reek of unspeakable odor, the bacteria would not be very friendly to your immune system. 

And that’s where latrines come into play. Latrine or toilet has intertwined with our lives so much so that I would not know what to do if I had to be without it for even half a day. As a matter of fact, one of my concerns when I first step into a hotel room is to check the toilet to see how comfortable and clean it would be. A stiff bed, I could tolerate, but an unhygienic toilet, I doubt I could.

As pampered as some of us, especially the city folks, are, the rest of the country aren’t quite as fortunate. In some parts of Cambodia, especially in the more rural parts of the country, latrines are a luxury, not just a room that is to be taken for granted.

Ancient toilet
Rewind back in time a bit, albeit it’s unclear when the first toilet was invented, the history can be traced as far back as 3,000 BC when the Skara Brae, a Neolithic settlement on the Scottish mainland, built stone huts equipped with drains extending from recesses in their walls.  

Fast forward over 4,500 years later, the first flush toilet was invented in 1596 by Sir John Harrington, but didn’t catch everyone’s attention until 1851.  

In our 21st century glory, there are two main types of toilets: the squat toilets known as “eastern style toilets” and sitting toilets known as “western style toilets”.

Although the sitting toilets are considerably more convenient, especially when you lose all track on time, browsing on the internet as you’re doing your “business”, studies have shown that squad toilets are far better for your health. Long story short, during defecation, the puborectalis muscle will relax and the anorectal angle will widen. Squatting widens the anorectal angle, allowing a clear and straight passage for stool to pass.

If you’re as lost by the medical terms of that as I am, consider this, squatting helps work out your glute muscle. If you’re looking to tone and get perky butt, you can squeeze in some extra workout in between doing the number two. How’s that for benefits?
Regardless of what position you defecate in, I can’t stress the importance of latrines enough. Human excrement germs that can cause illnesses and those germs have a long lifespan, too, especially in liquid form. Without proper disposal system, the waste can enter the water and causes diarrheal diseases and Cholera, which may quickly lead to death.

Unfortunately, 2.6 billion people worldwide live without a toilet. Cambodia doesn’t have to be a part of the statistics, too. It’s high time that we start building latrines, no matter how far from the buzzing and fussing of the city we are. No more defecating in bushes or rivers; let’s do this the proper way – the way Sir Harrington intended. Let’s build latrines. 


A Brief History of Toilets, TIMES


  1. judging by the dusty footprints on toilet seats, it seems
    lots of people are on the 'toilet conversion' bandwagon. :p

  2. I love a good poo