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Bathhouse / Cubicle Construction

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Oxfam Technical Brief 8: Low cost drainage for emergencies

Minimum Requirements

  • Female-bathing cubicles should be included in a screened courtyard design with toilets or constructed separately.
  • Ensure adequate space and provisions for female menstrual needs e.g. cleaning, drying or disposal of sanitary napkins.
  • If there is no piped water system the bathing cubicles should be close to the water points so that people do not have to transport water long distances for bathing.
  • There should be 1 bathing cubicle for every 50 people (this ratio could be increased to 1:100 in a first phase emergency).
  • At least 1 bathing cubicle out of every 20 people should be constructed for people with specific needs (including extra space for a carer to help a disabled person bathe).
  • Women are more likely to be bathing children whilst they bathe and so will need more time. To avoid excess queues for female bathing facilities there should be more (2:1 female: male) units for women, and they should be clearly marked.
  • Adequate drainage for the wastewater should be provided. Slabs and floors should be provided with grease traps and a 1% slope towards drainage to prevent stagnant water.
  • Every cubicle should have a door and, where possible, it should be a solid door so that door catches can be installed; this is especially important for communal bathing facilities.
  • Bathhouse construction should also be accompanied by hygiene promotion, for example on stopping public defecation in the communal bathing space.
  • Bathhouses should be segregated by sex and should be clearly marked. In communities where men bath outside/at water point, construction of bathhouses for men may not be necessary. However, in such conditions, consider additional water points.
  • Where people wash their clothes while bathing space for washing clothes needs to be considered while designing bathhouses.