Did you know one out of every three people in the world lacks a hygienic toilet in their homes? Sanitation is more than just toilets, however — it encompasses the facilities, behaviors, and services that prevent diseases caused by contact with human waste. USAID helps partner countries reach the poor and underserved to end open defecation, gain first-time or improved access to basic sanitation services, and move progressively toward safely managed services.
A central goal of the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy is to facilitate sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation services, and promote the adoption of key hygiene behaviors. Such improvements are especially important in underserved peri-urban areas that often lack access to these services.
We have been using the same toilet system for the past 200 years. The sewer system is safe and clean, but also resource intensive, and many countries cannot afford the water and energy needed. Can there be a new solution? That is the ambition of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) project committee 305 that is working to define a standard for a new type of toilet, which could help meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on safe sanitation for all.
Some of the lowest rates of improved sanitation in the world are found in three project countries: Benin (13 percent), Côte d’Ivoire (14 percent), and Ghana (28 percent). Each country lacks affordable options for safe disposal and treatment of human waste. Densely populated areas, such as slum communities, have limited space to construct household toilets and land disputes coupled with a lack of urban planning complicate this problem.
In the face of urbanization, alternative approaches are needed to deliver adequate and inclusive sanitation services across the full sanitation service chain. Container-based sanitation (CBS) consists of an end-to-end service—that is, one provided along the whole sanitation service chain—that collects excreta hygienically from toilets designed with sealable, removable containers and strives to ensure that the excreta is safely treated, disposed of, and reused.
In Kenya, more than 95 percent of human fecal sludge is released into the environment untreated or inadequately treated, contributing to a high burden of childhood morbidity and mortality from diarrheal diseases. In addition, charcoal made from illegally logged trees is a major source of cooking fuel in Kenya, contributing to deforestation and to unhealthy indoor air quality.