Achieving safely managed sanitation

Headshot of Daigo Ishiyama on a blue background and the SATO logo in white in the top right corner

We introduce the SATO Slab, which serves as a sturdy and easy to clean surface that allows for the rapid construction of a toilet, the latest addition to our expanding portfolio.

By Daigo Ishiyama

As the world looks to the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, SATO’s commitment to contributing to SDG6.2: sanitation and hygiene for all, by using innovative products to provide effective end-to-end solutions remains as ambitious as ever.

We were proud to officially launch our SATO Slab, the latest addition to our ever-growing product portfolio, at FSM 7 in Côte d’Ivoire. As we came together with cross-sector leaders to discuss the importance of accelerating access to safe sanitation, we wanted to raise awareness of our expanded portfolio which, when combined, can create an effective solution to safely managed sanitation.

So, what is our role to play as a private business and how do our products combine to create an off-grid end-to-end solution, providing consumers with a safer, and more pleasant toilet experience while enabling the achievement of safely managed sanitation?

Firstly, we needed to create a suitable single point for human waste to be captured and contained. Today, over 1.7 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation[1], with nearly 500 million people estimated to rely on open defecation[2], an issue that disproportionately impacts communities in Asia and Africa. Open pit latrines in these markets end up in unsafe and unpleasant user experience – creating bad odours and harbouring insects that pose unnecessary health risks.

To address these challenges, in 2012 we created the SATO Pan – an award-winning product that uses our patented trap-door technology to transform an open pit into a closed one. Designed in a way that is simple, affordable, and easy to clean, and requiring less than 1L of water per flush, it immediately improves the sanitation experience for consumers with open pits, drastically minimizing bad odour and passage of insects into pits. The complete separation of faeces with the human environment should be seen as the first step to creating safely managed sanitation.

For many people, the toilet pan is often the only element of their sanitation system that they see and therefore consciously think about improving. It is a critical touchpoint, and because of this we continue to leverage our heritage in R&D to launch new variations such as the SATO Stool – that enhance accessibility for children, the elderly and the disabled.

To create an end-to-end solution that can deliver generational value, we innovated beyond just the toilet pans and stools. Toilets must also be paired with a suitable system that directs waste to offset pits. This is because the alternative, direct pits, are often unsafe as users can fall into them, whilst they also pose a great challenge to pit-emptying. This was why we created our connecting systems, like the collection boxes or the more-evolved I-Trap and the V-Trap systems, allowing waste to be seamlessly piped away from the latrine. The collection box and I-Trap systems connect toilets with single pits and septic tanks, beneficial for space constrained installations. On the other hand, the V-Trap connects toilets to two pits. This facilitates the construction and sustainable use of so-called Twin Pit Latrines: when one pit is full, the waste can be easily redirected to the alternative pit, allowing the waste to compost in the first pit which can be safely disposed of. All our connection systems therefore provide the means to maintain safely managed sanitation.

The benefits that our systems offer also provide added safety for users. Previously, consumers were often forced to build open pit latrines far away from their homes due to the bad smells and insects, however, by using a system like the I-Trap or V-Trap, they can now locate their latrines much closer to their homes. This greatly enhances the comfort, as consumers are no longer forced to walk long distances to their toilet, whilst also decreasing the risks of snakebites and assaults – especially for young girls and women.

SATO toilets and the connection systems go a long way to creating a safely managed sanitation system. Our latest addition to the portfolio, the SATO Slab, builds on this offering, acting as a sturdy but lightweight, easy-clean platform for our toilet systems to mount onto. Safely managed sanitation – where people use an improved sanitation facility that is not shared with other households, and where excrement is safely disposed of in situ or treated off site – is not a pipe dream. The lightweight nature of the SATO Slab allows for easy and rapid construction of a toilet. Not only does this benefit the households but also in humanitarian settings. We have a vast number of toilets to construct for the achievement of SDG6, and the SATO Slab can be a key component to accelerate the sector-wide progress.

The SATO Slab is our addition to a portfolio of solutions which, when combined into an integrated system, can truly create safely managed sanitation. It’s commercially available worldwide, enabling consumers to transform their sanitation experience quickly and effectively. Now, we are looking to work with partners to drive awareness, reach, and availability of the SATO Slab, as we scale up and drive progress towards UN SDG 6.2.

[1] World Health Organisation – Global Sanitation Factsheet
[2] World Health Organisation – Global Sanitation Factsheet

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