The Challenge


How can we improve sanitation and better manage human waste in low-income urban communities? read the brief


Ecological Toilets + Compost or Biogas + Networked Entrepreneurs = Everybody Wins

The knowledge and networks needed to quickly raise the quality of sanitation and jump-start eco-friendly businesses have reached critical mass. Let's leverage best practices from all over the globe to restore dignity to a core human need.
Ecological Toilets recycle poop into compost or fuel and produce urine for fertilizing crops. They are cheap to build and can work without water. Human waste can be composted into fertilizer or used to produce biogas for cooking and lighting. Local entrepreneurs and farmers can collaborate with residents to run a profitable service that benefits everyone involved. Residents enjoy a vastly improved quality of life and could even be remunerated for their 'contributions'. Cellphones can be used for quality control and notifications.

The knowledge needed to make radical change happen is easily accessible by every cellphone in the world. Ignorance is now a conscious choice. A better way is to leverage best practices from all over the globe to restore dignity to a core human need. All that is needed is the local will to make this happen.
Who could implement this?
  1. Local entrepreneur
  2. Multinational company
  3. Large NGO
  4. Government
  5. I would!


Join the conversation and post a comment.

Sabra Marcroft

December 27, 2010, 21:26PM
Here's a link to a dutch organization supporting biogas and biofuels development that is "pro poor" in many places all over the world.

Karrina Kontney

December 27, 2010, 18:06PM
The biodigester idea is a good one and has been around for a while; I have seen studies where it is used in rural India. This actually addresses both the sanitation issue as well as the creation of more fertile crops. Great suggestion Avi.

Sabra Marcroft

December 23, 2010, 08:21AM
The biogas sanitation pdf above contains huge amount of relevant information for this challenge.

Sabra Marcroft

December 20, 2010, 03:45AM
I love how you've enriched the presentation with additional videos and downloads. The one about conditions and solutions in Romania is especially informative and moving.

Alessandro Ortega

December 16, 2010, 19:06PM
I find it interesting a solar dehydrator for the waste to a separate location from that where is the toilet. Thus, it is possible to construct a toilet rather than just two. The waste would be taken to the solar drying chambers, for example, monthly. The chambers could be closed for a longer time for dehydration and disinfection of waste. When a chamber was full, would be closed and another camera would be used. There is a process as smooth as composting, but is much simpler. I believe that the construction of chambers of dehydration vastly diminish the cost of the construction of toilets.

Sabra Marcroft

December 14, 2010, 22:57PM is an organization working on a pilot program for a franchise model biogas plant in Ghana. openIDEO team reported in the ghanasan blog

Sabra Marcroft

December 14, 2010, 06:19AM
Nice compact presentation of this great concept Avi.
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