Sit, squat, wipe, or bidet, people go to the toilet a lot of different ways, depending on local custom and economic circumstances. Which is why this new low-cost toilet is designed to be flexible. The SafiChoo means to accommodate whatever preferences local people have.
Now on Indiegogo, the toilet was developed by students at Georgia Tech, where it won the InVenture Prize. It’s a kit-in-a-box that can be assembled in six combinations, from “traditional squatting” to “elevated sitting posture.”
The team, including students and graduates in design, engineering, international developing and business, has been mentored by Sanivation, another sanitation startup we covered recently. SafiChoo completed three months of testing in Kenya in 2014 and now wants to set up a small trial in Lusaka, Zambia. The Indiegogo money is for sending team-members to Africa and doing fieldwork with three to five units.
“It’s really important to get on the ground and talk to people and work with the community to see what needs to change to make it their own,” says Jasmine Burton, founder of Wish for Wash, the nonprofit behind the toilet. “The toilet [lets you] pick which pieces you need based on your preferences. We want to see if that model works and people say ‘oh great, we can personalize this.'”
Wish for Wash hasn’t worked out a business model yet. It could charge for single-use, or sell the kit, or lease it. And there are also possibilities to make secondary products from the waste, including fuel and fertilizer, as Sanivation and Sanergy are doing. Burton is interested in working with mobile phone operators to incentivize people to use its toilets.
“There’s an issue that people don’t have money to spend [on sanitation], or they don’t prioritize money for sanitation. We’re looking at an incentive model that encourages people to have good hygiene, because if [good hygiene] is something you’ve never known, you don’t want to pay for that,” she says. For example, users could get free cellphone airtime every time they visit a SafiChoo toilet.
See the Indiegogo campaign here.