Monday, 1 March 2010

A $30 toilet?

Well, according to the news item In the market for proper sanitation in this month’s Bulletin of the World Health Organization, that’s what the World Toilet Organization, together with Rigel Technology (S) Pte Ltd, are hoping to develop. Here’s part of the item:

“Our idea is to manufacture bright, colourful toilets that are simple to use, easy to maintain and can be bought for less than US$ 100. The only way to supply toilets in a sustainable way is to create a market and a demand for them. When people invest their money in a toilet, they are more likely to accept it and use it.” Sim and others at the World Toilet Organization have been collaborating with Christopher Ng and Rigel Technology to develop an alternative to the “sticks and stones” self-built latrine. “The basic concept is to provide an economically sustainable and yet affordable toilet. Hence, with Rigel, we are trying to develop toilets for as little as US$ 30 each. The products will be ready around March to April this year” [emphasis added], says Ng, the managing director of the Rigel Technology Group, based in Kaki Bukit, Singapore. Rigel exhibited its latest toilet at the World Toilet Organization Summit in December 2009. It is attractive and ecologically sound, turning excrement into fertilizer. “It doesn’t need running water to flush it, although water is still needed for washing and hygiene,” says Sim. In Cambodia, toilets are being provided to villages, where families work together to pay by monthly installments. “This is arranged on rotation, with one family receiving a toilet each month. At the end of the year, all 12 families have toilets,” says Sim. He is promoting a franchise concept to encourage people to become distributors and suppliers in their area. “Then the market model becomes a no-brainer”, he says.

Ah well, it’s EcoSan – but at least someone’s paying attention to costs. Take note, you Swedes and Germans!

PS: if you look at Rigel's website you can see they're a real up-market company. So they deserve to be wholeheartedly congratulated for getting into low-cost sanitation (actually ultra-low-cost sanitation). Too many such companies ignore the sanitation needs of the poor.