The Challenge


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


Clean Team Customer Feedback

While one of our students was out in Ghana he made us a great video about the trial. Hear from our first customers what they feel about how the project is going.

While one of our students was out in Ghana he made us a great video about the trial. Hear from our first customers what they feel about how the project is going.

Related stories:

Finally the time has arrived when the Uniloo team will get to test their business model and the idea of an in-home portable toilet during a 6 month trial...

This was a very interesting part of starting up the trial, teaching people about sanitation and good hygiene who had little education in the area before...

We now had reached a point where everything was coming together; we had our uniforms, payments books and staff. A challenge we did not envisage was trying to find an old shipping container to store our items at the waste collection site...

The day finally arrived when the first loo was going to be installed. This turned out to be much more of a challenge than we could ever imagine; finding a time when people are home and ready to receive the toilet was not easy...


Join the conversation and post a comment.

Julie Chau

February 22, 2013, 01:34AM
This is such a simple solution with so many returns (jobs, sanitation service, electricity/fertilizer). Great model!

Cortney Schiappa

September 17, 2012, 19:32PM
Great idea! Proper sanitation is critical to a safe and healthy environment. I noticed on the Uniloo Startup Blog that the six-month trial began in August, 2011; and I have a few questions:

1) Do you have any results to report about the trial?
2) Was the Uniloo well-received in the community, and has the program continued successfully?
3) Is the blue liquid in the bowl bio-degradable, and is it produced/recycled locally?
4) Also, how is the power generated, and who receives the electricity?

My connection to this story:

This issue lies close to my heart because I had the opportunity to travel to Ghana as a college student and experience the incredible culture, art, and people first hand - along with the lack of sanitation infrastructure. After arriving in Accra and traveling throughout the country, I was quickly introduced to the squat toilets, cinderblock stalls, and the occasional grassy patch (all of which could be considered "luxurious" in terms of sanitation access for the majority of Ghanaian citizens). Until that point, I must admit, I was sheltered from the sanitation issues in developing countries.

My classmates and I (from Miami University Ohio's Arc/ID program) were charged with one summer studio task: design and build a public composting toilet for the village of Abrafo Oudimasi. Our team collaborated with a group of Ghanaian contractors and used local building techniques to make our concept drawings a reality.

I have not yet had the opportunity to return to the village to evaluate the sustainability of this project, but reading this "realisation" makes me wonder: Are the toilets that we built in Abrafo Oudimasi full? Are they clean? Does the entire community have access to the toilets, or have they remained locked for personal use (against the original plan)?

While both projects (Uniloo and Miami-loo) share the same intention, I wonder: Which is the most effective, realistic, sustainable, and replicate-able toilet in the long term? Toilets for individual families, or toilets for the community? How could you improve each project?

Cortney Schiappa

September 17, 2012, 21:17PM
I just found the report, and it answered quite a few of my questions. Great work!

Karl Donert

June 21, 2012, 08:31AM
Using GIS technology and geoinformation will help scale up and sustain the operation. We need to educate about spatial thinking to help improve local decision making.

Sarah Selim

February 09, 2012, 01:00AM
Very cool!

Paul Franklin

January 30, 2012, 04:20AM
Fantastic idea!

Sidhika Sooklal

December 10, 2011, 20:29PM
Congratulations! A very successful and well executed solution. Great work!

Alex Cox

December 10, 2011, 07:13AM
Really interesting project! Like Long, I'm wondering about pricing of the service and how you plan to maintain the support of the service technicians over time. How are they compensated, and who are they employed by? It seems to me that the ability to sustain maintenance and support for the service will be key to long-term adoption and success.

Bev Clark

December 08, 2011, 13:20PM
Very interesting. And inspiring. Whilst there are some many high tech innovations happening these examples of participatory community based initiatives that deal with basic human rights are essential. Sadly my bandwidth in Harare is making it difficult to view the video so I went to the ghanasan blog and had a read. I really liked the lessons learned/tips section and also the illustrations about how to used the toilets.

In Zimbabwe public toilets were built at numerous shopping/trading centers. However these have all been shut down (padlocked closed) largely because the local authority hasn't been able to provide water to service the toilets. So instead of becoming a health hazard, access has been denied, but no alternatives have been put forward. This leaves the large vendor communities that trade near commercial shopping areas without toilet facilities. I'm hoping that links between the private sector and local government will see the introduction of water deliveries so that people can use these toilets again.

But this example in Ghana provides good food for thought.

Long Dianna

November 30, 2011, 09:36AM
Very creative product. Want to learn more how much does people have to pay per month? And the installment fee? In Cambodia, less than 40% of households have toilet. This product may be a good solution for Cambodian as it doesn't need large space.

Bov Quintero

November 19, 2011, 19:40PM

Sai Bhaskar Reddy Nakka

November 11, 2011, 04:02AM
Great Project!

Christopher Spurgeon

September 28, 2011, 22:41PM
This is great to see, I remember writing everything and participating in the collaboration of this challenge. Good work and keep up the follow-up!

Meena Kadri

October 03, 2011, 05:39AM
And we remember your enthusiastic participation too, Chris! Hope you'll be swinging by to join us for more collaboration on social good real soon.

Vincent Cheng

September 22, 2011, 21:10PM
Congrats to everyone from the local Kumasi community, Clean Team, Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly, WSUP, Unilever, IDEO, OpenIDEO, Cranfield University, and everyone else that was involved in getting to this promising point! Excited about the trial progress and the potential 2012 launch for this social enterprise =).

Sean Matthews

September 22, 2011, 16:51PM
It is nice to see how all aspects of the product interaction cycle benefits the community. It integrates nicely with rural economies creating employment and providing a low cost fertilizer source.

Walter Aprile

September 22, 2011, 15:17PM
you just reinvented the Pail Closet - a very good idea, circa 19th century.

Haiyan Zhang

September 22, 2011, 16:56PM
So nice to see simple ideas making a dramatic different in people's lives. Interesting enough, many users talk about the service aspect of the idea, how it's great to have someone come to their homes and clean the toilet.

Nathan Waterhouse

September 22, 2011, 23:05PM
Interesting comment Walter, to build on Haiyan's point, I guess sometimes innovation is all about the context, timing, and implementation. Which in this case seems to be creating some impact. Plus as Haiyan mentions it's the service layer and the overal business model that makes sense for the people it serves.

Walter Aprile

September 26, 2011, 12:44PM
hi Nathan, hi Haiyan... Ivreans everywhere! I did not manage to find information about the business model though, nor what happens to the waste after it has been collected. I am sure it is there.

Tom Hulme

September 22, 2011, 14:41PM
It's these impact stories that make us all proud - congrats to Unilever and the whole community
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