BY OUR REPORTER
In a global race to enhance access to clean water and sanitation, innovators are taking center stage on World Toilet Day, celebrated on November 19. This year’s theme, “accelerating change,” highlights ongoing efforts by creative minds to address the needs of the approximately 3.5 billion people worldwide living without safe toilets.
One notable initiative comes from Saniwise Technologies, a team of young entrepreneurs in Kisumu, Kenya, who have designed an award-winning eco-toilet. Chelsea Johannes of Saniwise, who grew up in a low-income area raised by a single mother, understands the challenges faced by communities in maintaining toilets and securing funds for proper waste disposal. Their blue, well-ventilated prototype not only addresses these challenges but also produces valuable by-products.
The Saniwise eco-toilet, made from recycled materials, including plastic waste, employs dry toilet technologies and features a ventilation system. After use, black soldier fly larvae are introduced into the waste, transforming it into nutrient-rich manure. Johannes explains, “You can see that it already looks more like soil. In four days’ time, it will be ready to sell as manure.”
This innovation has not only earned Saniwise Technologies recognition but also seed money to scale up their project. Their prototype secured the second prize at a global competition organized by Generation Unlimited, a collaboration between UNICEF, Microsoft, IKEA, and other partners aimed at fostering innovations to address global challenges.
Crucially, Saniwise Technologies doesn’t stop at providing eco-friendly sanitation solutions. They also sell the by-products, including manure and chicken feed, to local farmers like 77-year-old John Ochieng. His farm has benefited from the nutrient-rich manure, resulting in healthier crops and contented chickens.
“I like the products,” says Ochieng. “The manure helps my crops grow very green and fruitful. When I gave my chickens the feed, they enjoyed it. It’s good to see young people helping themselves.”
These initiatives align with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 of the 2030 Agenda, which aims to achieve clean water and sanitation for all. The diverse range of innovations, from eco-toilets to creative partnerships fostering change, reflects the collective effort to transform the landscape of water and sanitation accessibility globally.
As the world commemorates World Toilet Day, these stories of ingenuity and commitment serve as a testament to the transformative power of innovation in addressing fundamental challenges and driving progress towards a future where clean water and sanitation are accessible to all.