Tag Archives: sanitation solutions

“High Tech Solutions Target the World’s Sanitation Crisis”

In a recent post on nrdc.org, author Ed Osann talks about the world’s sanitation crisis and how an international group of experts (under the umbrella of the ISO) is working towards standards that any new sanitation solution could, and should, meet.

These standards are a push to introduce sanitation solutions – that do not require sewerage – that can be easily and quickly deployed anywhere, regardless of location.

The international panel (of which the author is a part of), The Panel on Sustainable Non-Sewered Sanitation Systems, co-led by experts  from the US and Senegal, is currently working on a draft of these standards and hopes to have a final draft submitted by the summer of 2018.

“If successful, this effort has huge implications for public health in the developing world, but it could also be a game-changer for water and wastewater management in the US and other developed countries. Remote locations, such as state and national parks, are obvious possibilities for early installations. But as more states and communities contend with recurring drought and the uncertainties of climate change, more communities will be receptive to sanitation solutions that do not require drinking water to operate. In fact, production for commercial installations in developed countries may speed up the availability of more affordable units for the developing world.”

We’ve mentioned the importance of developing international standards on this site multiple times before, but it bears repeating. Not only will standards help provide universal benchmarks to reach for – clearing a distinct path for future R&D and manufacturing processes – but they also help manufacturers create sanitation solutions that can be used by (and be useful to) the world at large, not just domestically.

To read the post (it’s a quick read too) in it’s entirety, click here.

The East and Central Africa City Development Forum


Myles ElledgeOur very own Myles Elledge will be speaking at the East and Central Africa City Development Forum tomorrow (05/24/2016)!

During the event he’ll be taking part in a session on Water, Sanitation and Urban Health, where he’ll be giving a talk on innovation in sanitation solutions.

Read more about the event here.

The Importance of Human Centered Design

Recently I stumbled upon this great video from IDE Wash about the creation of their “Easy Latrine 2.0” in Cambodia and how the new design of it was heavily influenced by human centered design. I particularly love how much the video focuses on the phases they went through during the HCD process.

It’s not terribly long and highly informative. Have a watch:

One of the most important aspects of our project has been the informed decisions we have made while engineering our sanitation system. Without the vital input we’ve received from our users, we would pour every resource we had into a sanitation solution that no one would ever use.

Through our on-site field testing, we’ve harvested data from the very people our toilet will help. It’s through that interaction and observation that we’ve been able to create a complete sanitation system that people will use and want to interact with on a daily basis.

“In India, ending open defecation requires more than just behavior change”

In a recent piece by Alys Francis on devex.com she goes over the challenges of ending open defecation in India via behavioral change. We cover this issue at length on our site, mostly because it is becoming the primary focus (and obstacle) of a lot of sanitation projects in developing countries around the world.

India in particular is a complex place to change behavior because of the variety of social systems that are currently embedded in society. Community led santation has shown lots of promise in many countries because of its localized approach catered only to people living in specific effected areas. But, as Francis’ findings point out, that approach as successful as it has been, won’t work everywhere for everyone. It’s complicated:

“Designing behavior change programs is particularly difficult in India, according to Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman of Feedback Foundation, which runs several such endeavors funded by the World Bank. There are multiple languages, religions, castes and tribes, and no single method works for them all, he said.

“What might trigger a Hindu majority population, won’t work for Muslim,” he noted.”

It’s a great read with some fascinating observations. Particularly of the findings/success that UNICEF had recently in a district in West Bengal. Click here to read the entire article Devex.com.

Problems Technology Alone Won’t Fix…

In a recent Nicholas Kristof interview with Bill and Melinda Gates in The New York Times, when asked about any mistakes they made during their immense philanthropic endeavors, they mentioned that they would’ve taken a more “low tech” approach.

“So what mistakes did they make in their philanthropy? They say they started out too tech-focused. Now some of the measures they promote are distinctly low-tech — like breast-feeding, which could save the lives of more than 800,000 children worldwide each year.”

This topic resonates deeply with the global sanitation crisis the world is currently facing as well. For all the technological advances we make, for all the whiz-bang toilets we manufacture, there are also societal and educational hurdles we need to get past before any of this has an effect. These obstacles are easily as complex as the technology being developed and, in many cases, they are problems that can’t be solved quickly with the simple flip of a switch.

This is why field work is so important and, for our toilet project, has been invaluable.


Through active engagement with the people who are going to be using our toilet everyday we are listening and learning about their needs and potential concerns. Through this communication process, we are developing a sanitation/waste treatment solution that won’t languish after it’s been deployed. We’ll have already educated them on its use and maintenance. And they will want to use it because it’s familiar, clean and safe for anyone to use.

You see it happening more and more around sanitation, and hygiene (particularly in regards to women and girls/children). People are talking and it’s vital that we keep that dialogue alive and, most importantly, learn from it moving forward.

Having a conversation – engaging and educating people – is about as low-tech as you can get. Seeing the intrinsic value in this dialogue will be key to solving the world’s sanitation problems. We need to continue to have these conversations. Otherwise all of these high-tech solutions we’re so busy creating will only sit, unused, collecting dust, while antiquated ideals and ideas of how sanitation should be, carry on.