Guidelines for the construction of institutional and public toilets

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Sharon Chelimo, 14, WASH Club member, prepares to wash the floor of the newly built WaterAid latrine block at St Mary's School, Namalu, Nakapiripirit District, Karamoja Region, Uganda, July 2017
Image: WaterAid/ Eliza Powell

We provide water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities in schools and healthcare centres and public toilets across the world, aiming to model good practice that will influence national guidelines and standards.

While toilet design should always be adapted to local contexts and national standards, this guide aims to provide general practical guidance that:

• can be applied across different countries and contexts
• highlights critical features that must be included to avoid mistakes
• is easily understood by both designers and builders

We have created the guidelines for WaterAid country offices and partner organisations. They may also be useful for local authorities in charge of public and institutional toilets in cities and towns, national governments, public and private service providers, NGOs, donors and civil society organisations.


The guide covers the stages of pre-design planning, design, construction, contracts, operations and maintenance. 

It features technical drawings on geographical location, siting, block and cubicle design, toilet layout and accessibility features for people with disabilities and for menstrual hygiene management. You can download these in a separate file for printing at larger scale.

The annexes include tools for calculating numbers and quantities along with more detailed technical designs. The last section is an annotated bibliography with key references.

For institutional toilets, the guide focuses on healthcare facilities and schools, although the guidelines can be applied to other institutions. Public toilets can be built in a variety of locations where people pass through, for example markets, train and bus stations, parks, religious sites or areas homeless people visit.

Read the guide in conjunction with two other WaterAid publications:

• Guidelines for sustainable and inclusive school WASH (available online soon)

Female-friendly public and community toilets: a guide for planners and decision makers


This is a pilot document for practical use and we would welcome your feedback, which we will use as the basis for reviewing the guidelines in June 2020. Please email your comments to our Programme Support Unit team [email protected].