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Toilet and Sink Portfolio in Tanzania / Dar es Salaam / Buza

The Best Toilet Guide for Tanzania

Nobody likes to talk about it, but everyone does do it – going to the toilet. When traveling to other cultures, we deal with the question of hygiene. Whether washdown or flush, whether wall-hung toilet or floor-standing toilet, whether squat toilet or pit latrine – they all serve the same purpose. But what can you expect in Tanzania?

UnboxingTanzania relates our observations and helps you to be prepared for the toilet situation in Tanzania.

Outside and Indoor Toilets

Toilet Facility in the Back Yard
Toilet Facility in the Backyard

When we were looking for an apartment in Tanzania, we were advised to get one only with “Choo ndani”. The literal translation “inside toilet” didn’t make sense right away. Are toilets not always inside?

Well, so we thought. In Tanzania, small toilet houses located in the yard are quite common. Sometimes the WC are also attached to the house but can only be accessed from outside. This can be an adventure, especially at night. There are nicer moments than being accompanied to the latrine in your pyjama by a swarm of mosquitoes.

Our apartment has an inside toilet. Our bathroom has a wall-hung WC, sink and shower. There is even an option for hot water. A 10L hot water tank can be switched on separately. That means on cold days, when temperatures plummet below 25 degrees at night, we can treat ourselves with a nice, warm shower.

There are also public WCs in Tanzania. In touristic areas, there are the familiar WC signs. Or you look for the sign “HUDUMU YA CHOO”, the “service of the toilet”.

Public Toilet Sign in Tanzania
Public Toilet Sign ” Huduma ya Choo” – “Service of the Toilet”

Our tip:
When booking, check for “Choo ndani” (WC inside)! If you want to take a warm shower in Tanzania, you should ask specifically about that

Sitting toilets and Squat Toilet

WCs outside are almost always squat toilets. That is a ceramic hole in the ground. There are no handholds here in Tanzania. If your Airbnb doesn’t have a “Choo ndani”, you should practice a stable squat. However, this is supposed to be the most natural and healthy posture when doing your business.

Personally, we prefer the sitting WC, maybe just because we’re used to it. Nevertheless, we do not panic when we have to go to the loo while out and about. Using the squat toilet is probably a matter of getting used to. Especially if you like to read your newspaper on the loo.

Our tip:
Even a “Choo Ndani” can be a squat toilet. That’s why you’ll often find pictures of bathrooms among the photos of vacation rentals. So, take a closer look.

Flushing Cistern and Bucket

The squat toilets are mostly flushed manually. In a corner of the toilet there is usually a 10-30L bucket with a lid. On the lid is a mug with a handle. This is filled with water and used to remove all traces.

Sometimes there is also a squeegee next to the bucket. In this case, the cup is filled several times to distribute the water in the tiled bathroom. The squeegee is used to sweep the water into the drain of the squat toilet.

The wall-hung or floor-standing water closets are usually connected to a flushing cistern. Operation is self-explanatory. Press the button or operate the lever and the flush runs. In many households, however, the water pressure is very low. So always hope that the first rinse will bring the desired result. Otherwise, expect a longer wait for the cistern to fill up again.

Our tip:
If there’s a power cut or no water for other reasons, you can use this to help yourself: Always have a bucket filled with water ready in an Airbnb or vacation home. It should be a bucket or other container that you can seal, otherwise the mosquitoes will breed happily.

Toilet Paper, Anal Tube and Left Hand

There is no hoarding of toilet paper in Tanzania (as it was in Germany during Covid19). Here one can also manage without toilet paper. Don’t worry, you can buy toilet paper in supermarkets and small shops. The public WCs are usually not equipped with toilet paper.

Our tip:
Pack a few sheets of toilet paper in a waterproof plastic bag and just have them with you.

You can also try the anal tube instead of toilet paper. Don’t worry, the water pressure in the pipes is manageable. Thus, the risk of injury and the chances of getting completely wet is banned.

How does an anal tube work? You may have heard about the Japanese water closets with the automatic butt shower and drying system. In Tanzania this is done manually. So just take the hose out of the holder, get into the right position and turn on the water. The drying is done here by the climate or the toilet paper you have brought with you.

Luxury: Anal Tube, Sitting Toilet and Toilet Paper
Luxury: Anal Tube, WC and Toilet Paper

What’s the deal with the famous left hand? You cannot use your left hand for many things in Tanzania. For example, the left hand is not used for greeting, the left hand has no role when eating, and even when paying or accepting money, the left hand has no place.

What does all of this have to do with our toilet theme? If there is no toilet paper and there is no water for the anal tube, then the left hand rules and is responsible for personal hygiene. We personally have spared our left hand until now and have become fans of the anal tube.

We have not yet found out whether there are still people in Tanzania who use the left hand as described. Although we write about it, the topic does not accompany us in our daily conversations.

Culturally, however, it is important to note that only the right hand should be used to interact with others. The left hand can be parked on the back.

Don’t forget to wash your hands

Hand Wash Station in Dar es Salaam / Buza
Hand Wash Station in Dar es Salaam / Buza

Left hand, anal tube or toilet paper, you should always wash your hands. This is also important in Tanzania. In hotels and shopping malls and many homes there are sinks at your disposal.

In bars there are often hand washing stations in front of the WCs. They consist of a large approx. 20-30 liter container with a tap, on which there is a soap dispenser. The soap is mostly diluted with water or some kind of washing powder is available. If such a construction does not exist, there is always an alternative. Just ask.

Our tip:
We always have a small microfibre cloth with us to dry our hands. Guest towels are rarely available in public WCs.

Also good to know

As said, the floor of the bathrooms are often flooded after use and then wiped off. Nevertheless, the tiles remain wet in many places. Water and sandy soles result in mud. To avoid this, flip-flops or other slippers are available at most WCs. You should wear these so that you don’t bring the sand or mud from outside into the bathroom.

Toilet Equipment: Buckets and Flip-Flops
WC Equipment: Buckets and Flip-Flops

Bottom line

Hygiene is very important in Tanzania. The people are concerned about cleanliness and so the toilets are also maintained and cleaned. A lot was new to us, but we quickly got used to the sanitary facilities in Tanzania.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Jacky

    Interesting article “Nobody likes to talk about it, but everyone does do it “!

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