Toilets for $10 or Less are Accelerating Progress Towards A Major World Goal: Sanitation for All


The Water Innovation Engine, a pioneering partnership led by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to stimulate bold new ideas and approaches in the water sector has launched the global “Urban Sanitation Challenge” with the announcement of a multi-million-dollar investment in five projects in Africa, Asia and South America.
The financial support helps advance the Japan-based manufacturer, LIXIL, towards its goal of providing safe sanitation to 100 million additional people by the end of 2020 — a 4 percent reduction in the 2.3 billion worldwide who lack access today — that would represent significant acceleration of the world’s pace towards a key United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for 2030: sanitation for all.
The projects include an innovative line of affordable plastic toilets equipped with a simple, gravity-powered self-closing trapdoor that makes pit latrine outhouses safer, more sanitary and less unpleasant. The products, marketed under the SATO brand of Japan’s LIXIL Group Corporation, are now being used in 14 countries, with more than 1.2 million toilets installed, improving the lives of 6 million people.
With today’s new funding, production will be scaled up to reach 15 million additional users. Across its global sanitation and hygiene activities, LIXIL aims to provide safe sanitation for 100 million additional people worldwide by the end of 2020 – a 4 percent reduction in the 2.3 billion worldwide who lack access to basic sanitation. That would represent a significant acceleration of the world’s pace towards a key United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for 2030: sanitation for all.
Each year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene. In 2015, 2.3 billion people still lacked even a basic sanitation service, and 892 million people still practiced open defecation.
First developed by LIXIL’s American Standard brand, the SATO series feature a weighted flap under the seat that seals itself after use (installation video: http://bit.ly/2vBxXvx. Website: http://www.sato. lixil.com)
Priced from $2 to $10, depending on model and country, they use as little as 200 ml (less than a cup) of water, 80 percent less water than a flush toilet, put a barrier between fecal waste and people, block odours, flies and other disease vectors, and offer an effective, affordable way to mitigate the dangers and unpleasantness of typical pit latrines.
It is one of the initial projects scaled up under the Urban Sanitation Challenge. They will be funded by Grand Challenges Canada with the financial support of the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, together with a host of partners.  The announcement was made during UN General Assembly meetings in New York City.
The five projects, in Africa, Asia, and South America, will be scaled up with a total investment of CAD $8.7 million.
The Urban Sanitation Challenge will fund breakthroughs in innovative approaches that help communities deliver cost-effective universal urban sanitation so as to prevent harmful impacts to health, the environment, and the economy.
The Urban Sanitation Challenge, led by Grand Challenges Canada, is the newest initiative of the Water Innovation Engine, which was formed in response to a 2016 Call to Action from the eleven Heads of Government and State and Special Adviser who make up the UN / World Bank High Level Panel on Water (HLPW). Leaders specifically made an appeal for the launch of challenge programs to stimulate thinking that will shift the needle in implementing a new water agenda.
The Water Innovation Engine’s development is being guided by a Launch Committee, whose members include the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the World Bank, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
There is a critical need to scale up sustainable sanitation systems in urban areas, and for better global coordination in water innovation.
The world’s urban population is projected to increase massively, with some two-thirds of the population projected to be living in cities by 2030, many in informal settlements with limited water and sanitation facilities. The lack of adequate sanitation in cities has dire consequence for the urban environment and public health, as well as negative impacts on economic growth and disproportionate impacts on women and girls.
The Water Innovation Engine also today announced the launch of the Water Data Challenge, led by the Global Innovation Fund, which seeks innovations — technical, institutional or behavioural — that use data to catalyse better water management and improve the lives of people living on less than $5 a day.
“The lack of sanitation has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable women and girls and leads to diarrhea, death and delayed child development,” said Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada. “Investing in safe urban sanitation is key to advancing gender equality, and to ensuring the health and well-being of every woman and every child.”
Having to defecate in the open or in a common pit latrine exposes millions of people to odors and disease. To combat this problem, LIXIL developed the SATO series of products with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and launched them in Bangladesh in 2013.
Now available also in Uganda, Kenya, and India, LIXIL is establishing new manufacturing sites and distribution in Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia, Haiti, Ghana, Malawi, and the Philippines.
“Smart partners” in the scale up effort include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Toilet Board Coalition, and local non-governmental organizations.
The SATO brand products include a variety of models tailored to meet local needs and preferences. The toilets are produced locally to keep costs down and facilitate broader distribution, and are sold through local partners to create employment and entrench local operations.
A significant, recent addition to the SATO product line is the “V-TRAP” Toilet System, designed to improve the performance and reliability of twin pit latrines. The new products include a diverter that enables users to alternate pits every two years. Left for two years, the waste in the closed pit decomposes into a safe fertilizer and is removed. The pit is then reopened and the other pit closed. The twin pit approach is championed by the government of India to achieve the goal of an open defecation-free India by 2019.
“SATO seeks to scale its operations and to develop the means to reach the millions of rural consumers currently living without access to safe and proper sanitation. Funding from Grand Challenges Canada will have a significant impact on our ability to achieve these goals. That funding represents a much appreciated vote of confidence in the SATO team’s innovative and technology-focused approach to sanitation solutions,” said Jin Song Montesano, Executive Officer and Senior Managing Director, LIXIL Group.
With new support from Grand Challenges Canada, Laguna Water will test a sanitation business model for the Philippines’ most impoverished people using two innovative container-toilet prototypes, with aspirations to scale its sanitation services in the province of Laguna by 2018.
An estimated 25 percent of the world’s population live in informal settlements, a number expected to double by 2030. Many water and sewerage utilities around the world have difficulty serving households in these communities, such that sanitation services are rarely extended to these communities.
Laguna Water, a pioneering public-private partnership between the Provincial Government of Laguna and Manila Water Philippine Ventures, has been addressing the urgent need for sanitation services in Laguna’s informal urban communities since the expansion of their mandate in 2015. Laguna Water is the largest water service provider in the province with more than 130,000 water service connections and about 75 percent service coverage.
Laguna Water will bundle water and sanitation services, which will be financially sustained through a cross-subsidy model. The company will simultaneously test two innovative container-toilet prototypes with the goal of meeting the needs of informal communities while also working within the operating and cost parameters of the utility.
With the new funding, Laguna Water will pilot its approach with 30 households, reaching 150 people with improved sanitation, and demonstrating a sustainable model that could be replicated by other utilities around the world. If the pilot is successful, Laguna Water plans to expand the project with the aim of reaching 30,000 households.
Thanks to new support delivered through the Urban Sanitation Challenge, X-runner will expand its subscription sanitation services in nine communities in Peru, improving the lives of 3,500 users.
Preventing human contact with fecal-born contamination is a cross cutting health priority. Poorly managed toilets and toilet waste causes acute disease outbreaks like cholera, periodic illnesses like diarrhea and intestinal worms, and chronic health damages like stunting.
X-runner, the first certified Peruvian B Corporation, delivers hygienic in-home sanitation by combining a portable dry toilet, a subscription-based weekly pick-up system and high quality customer care.
With new support, X-runner will increase its coverage to a new district in Lima during 2017 and will add at least 500 new service households in more than 200 communities by 2018. In doing so, X-runner will remove 62 tonnes of feces per month from these communities.
New funding from the Urban Sanitation Challenge will enable Sanivation, a social enterprise, to scale-up its sanitation services in Naivasha, Kenya, reaching 2,500 users with its affordable, serviceable toilets.
Some 842,000 people in low- and middle-income countries die as a result of inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene each year. Better water, sanitation and hygiene could prevent the deaths of 361,000 children aged under 5 each year.
Sanivation improves sanitation by installing modern, hygienic container-based toilets in people’s homes for free and charging a small monthly fee to service them. Instead of dumping the waste, Sanivation safely disposes of it by transforming it into high-performing fuel briquettes.
Sanivation’s fuel briquettes are then sold to businesses like restaurants, and have earned a reputation for burning longer and with less smoke than traditional charcoal. Sanivation has sold 100 percent of the fuel briquette that have been produced, and demand outstrips supply.
With new support, Sanivation will also begin working the municipal government to build partnerships to reach even more residents.
Sanivation’s partners include Toilet Board Coalition, Naivasha Municipality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and USAID.
Funding from Grand Challenges Canada will enable Pivot Works, a social enterprise based in Kigali, Rwanda, to prepare to scale-up its sanitation services to serve 700,000 low-income residents. Pivot Works will refine its fecal sludge conversion process and extend operations of its pit latrine emptying service city-wide, reaching a capacity to empty 12,000 pits annually.
Pivot Works factories convert human waste into renewable fuel using a three-step process. First, Pivot uses mechanical dewatering to extract solids from human waste. Pivot then dries the solid content using greenhouses and thermal dryers. The final product, Pivot Fuel, is sold to industries as a replacement for coal or other biomass.
By selling the fuel to industrial customers, Pivot Works factories generate a revenue stream that significantly offsets the cost fecal sludge treatment for cash-strapped governments and citizens. Pivot’s pit latrine emptying arm, Pit Vidura, offers Kigali’s only safe, hygienic, and legal emptying service for low-income households. Pit Vidura has developed a suite of hardware and software that to make pit emptying clean, efficient and affordable.
With earlier support from Grand Challenges Canada, Pivot Works demonstrated the feasibility of its model and improved its greenhouse technology for rapidly desiccating fecal sludge in Kenya.
Pivot’s smart partners include the City of Kigali, the Water and Sanitation Corporation, the Rwanda Ministry of Infrastructure, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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