K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Apr 13 2012

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American Standard receives grant to develop prefab toilet

When this press release about American Standard Brands building a toilet for developing countries crossed my desk, I was reminded of The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters, a book I started reading (and nearly finished) after attending an entertaining talk given by its author Rose George. I was reminded because it included a section about the lack of toilets and sanitation systems in certain parts of the world, as well as one’s man’s quest to draw attention to this issue. (The book is definitely worth a read.)

The press release quotes some statistics from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Marketing Programme for Water Safety and Sanitation that are pretty striking. Roughly 40 percent of the world’s population does not have access to adequate sanitation facilities, and around 1.2 billion people worldwide “practice open defecation.” As a result, approximately 1.6 million people, including young children under the age of five, die from diseases that stem from contaminated drinking water and poor hygiene but are largely preventable.

American Standard’s grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help address and redress this issue. The company will develop and test a low-cost, prefab toilet system for for places such as this village in Bangladesh (shown below). The following photos were taken during a fact-finding trip during which interviews were conducted by Daigo Ishiyama, an industrial designer with American Standard Brands, with villagers. The last two images are of a typical Bangladesh latrine. To “flush” away waste, water is manually poured into a pit located directly under it. The openness attracts flies.

Other similar projects are underway. When I interviewed Fu-tung Cheng for K+BB’s January/February Focus column, he mentioned he was working with Engineers Without Borders on an affordable compostable toilet made of concrete.

I don’t know how else to express my thoughts on these efforts except to say: I am in awe.

Have a great weekend.

—Alice

This entry was posted on Friday, April 13th, 2012 at 12:02 PM and is filed under Inspiration, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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