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).
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.”