2.6 billion people around the planet don’t have access to safe toilets. Not only does this impact health, but empowerment as well: women and girls “face high rates of violence when they don’t have access to safe and dignified sanitation,” according to protein biochemist and entrepreneur Diana Yousef, CEO of change:WATER Labs. She’s working on a solution: a portable, off-grid toilet that operates without plumbing, water or electricity.
“80 percent of disease around the world is attributable to poor sanitation,” Yousef said in a Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards YouTube video; she’s a 2018 finalist. Indigenous groups, people living in poverty, or refugees don’t have many options to deal with an absence of proper sanitation, according to change:WATER. So they’re working on a low-cost, off-grid, compact, environmentally safe toilet able to evaporate 95 percent of sewage sans energy with the help of a simple polymer membrane. Users wouldn’t need plumbing or water to flush the toilet.
Cartier Women’s Initiative says that membrane acts like a sponge, “soaking up and accelerating the evaporation of liquid contents without the use of power or heat…The vapors released are pure clean water, while the dried solids left behind are safely contained inside the membrane.” This volume reduction means toilets only have to be serviced once or twice in a month. Yousef said in the video the toilet sends waste water back into nature “in its purest form” in an attempt to promote a “cycle of use and re-use in a more efficient, sustainable, low-carbon way.”
Field deployment could happen later this year; Yousef has three pilot partnerships in the United States, Central America, and in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the initiative.
change:WATER is up for potential funding from the Chivas Venture (you can vote for them on the Chivas website). Yousef said funding would allow change:WATER to get working toilets to 10,000 families by 2019.
Image courtesy of change:WATER