Cambodian “Easy Latrine” wins international design award

A low-cost pour-flush latrines, especially developed for a project in Cambodia, has won a prestigious international design award.

The ‘Easy Latrine’, designed by Jeff Chapin while on sabbatical from IDEO, was one of three winners named Best in Show by the jury of the 2010 IDEA awards. The International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) is an annual competition organised by IDSA, the Industrial Designers Society of America.

Chapin designed the ‘Easy Latrine’ at the request of International Development Enterprises (IDE) for the Sanitation Marketing Project that was launched in Cambodia in early October 2009, under funding from USAID and the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program (WSP).

Users and schematics for the award-winning IDE Easy Latrine. Photos: Jeff Chapin and IDE Cambodia.

Village masons can build ‘Easy Latrines’ themselves from locally available parts. It consists of a pan, a bucket of water with a ladle, and pipes to connect a hut to a latrine buried in the ground. The latrine itself has three receptacles made of rings of concrete bound by the ash of rice husks — material that’s readily at hand and much cheaper than cement. Once a receptacle is full, it can be capped, and after two years, the sediment can be used as compost.

One latrine costs about $25 and more than 2,500 have already been purchased and installed by villagers. The aim to install 10,000 latrines by April 2011, all without subsidy as prescribed by the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach that the project is following.

Local producers are receiving training in sanitation and hygiene education, latrine production, and basic business and sales management. They are asked to invest a minimum of US$500 and produce three latrines per day.  A local mason—having seen his monthly income jump from US$50 to nearly US$400 in a matter of weeks—decided to invest more by purchasing another trailer for his motorbike in order to deliver more latrines to villages. He has also begun to sell his latrines to supply shops in the region as a secondary means of distribution. One supply shop is even selling the latrine core without making a profit, as they expect to earn their profits from the above-ground components that they will sell in conjunction with the core.

The IDEA jurors loved the clear thinking behind every aspect of the design of the ‘Easy Latrine’. Chapin and his team “understood how to bring the idea to the community, how the product would be made, and how it would be sustained,” says jury head John Barratt. “It’s an integration of strategy, service design, and product design.”

Source: Fast Company, 1 Jul 2010 ;  Aaron Langton, IDE Blog, 24 Jun 2010 ; WSP, Sanitation Marketing Takes Off in Cambodia, WSP, 2009

19 responses to “Cambodian “Easy Latrine” wins international design award

  1. Sadly, these toilets are not as cheap as the designers might have hoped ($25). They cost 200,000 Riel out at Phnom Srooit, Kompong Spur, Cambodia – that is around $50 – that’s materials only and not installation – Too much for many!

  2. And congratulations to Benjamin Clouet and Savath (don’t know last name, apologies) at IDE.

    They not only further refined the design, but improved the composition of concrete to be stronger and lighter, and improved the manufacturing process to enable those 8-fold increases the monthly wage of local masons.

    Congratulations to the team!

  3. Great job. I wonder where I can purchase those. I am working on a project to donate cheap toilets to selected villages. If this design is really cheap, i.e. USD 50, say for installation add USD 20, I can say it’s still relatively cheap.

  4. nripendra kumar sarma

    What is the provision in this design for use when the pit ( RCC ring ) is filled up with excreet aftr few years? How is the issue of sustainability addressed?
    We are also campaigning for it and rural population has already accepted the technology and has come forward to construct such toilets without any Goernment subsidy. We have ensured construction of such toilets with a future provision of second pit.
    But I would like to raise two issues as a cause of concern.
    a. What is the vulnerabilty of any nearby water source, as the bottom of the pit remaining open to earth.
    b. What are the precautionery approaches to be taken up for construction of such toilets in areas with high subsoil water table ( 300 – 450 mm below ground level )?
    Thanking you.

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  6. Groundwater contamination was also my concern. Evaporation is safer where possible. Could sand and/or charcoal be put into the base to filter waste water before it returns to the water table?

  7. Good idea and well done! But I have to say that in rural areas $25-50 would be much better spent on a toilet connected to a biogas digester which in addition to human waste could also be fed fresh manure from pigs or other livestock, which would produce a valuable by-product: clean-burning methane gas for cooking instead of firewood, not to mention the fact that 99% of pathogens die in the anaerobic process which protects against the spread of disease, contamination of ground water and finally producing an excellent liquid fertilizer for use in the fields.

  8. Hi. This is the first time that I saw new design latrines in Cambodia. I hope that this latrines will reduce poverty in Rural area and I hope that it will be good for all poor people in wide Cambodia Country

  9. please add me to your email list

  10. Dear Sir/Madam,
    Thank you for sharing of Easy latrine.
    How can i contact or buy this easy latrine(
    Name, Phone umber, Address )
    Anybody can help me for this matter !
    Thank you in advance.
    Best regards,

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  12. Pingback: Champions of the Toilet | The CSR Journal

  13. purandhar kakumani

    This is a simple equipment and very useful for poor to built and using.

  14. Pingback: Champions Of The Toilet | CSRLive

  15. Pingback: Champions Of The Toilet | CSR

  16. Pingback: Champions Of The Toilet | The CSR Journal

  17. Pingback: WaterSHED Cambodia Sanitation – WaterSHED Partner Wins Award for Low-cost Latrine Design - WaterSHED

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