Global figures that describe the lack of water and sanitation services are alarming. More than 1.1 billion people do not have access to improved drinking-water supplies. Lack of sanitation is an even larger problem; an estimated 2.6 billion individuals live without improved services. This lack of sanitary facilities has led to several problems.  In the rainy season, when clean drinking water should be plentiful, the majority of a 3rd world rural water supply can be contaminated by waste.  Drainage and run-off including excrement can enter residences; contaminate entire ground water tables, wells and swimming areas.  Such close contact to contaminated water leads to diseases such as diarrhea, skin disorders, typhoid fever and malaria.

Bridge Factory decided to tackle this challenge and entered the HIDO (Humanitarian Industrial Design Organization) toilet design competition.  The result of our efforts is the Dignity toilet that took first prize in the international competition.  The Dignity toilet provides not only an innovative product solution and an empathetic approach to both its design and function.

The Dignity toilet provides sealed, sanitary storage for solid waste for three people for approximately 7 days.  After that period, the toilet is removed from it’s dock and taken to a pre-determined, communal area, down stream from the water supply. The Dignity toilet’s unique internal mechanism allows it to then be manually augered into the soil where it evacuates it’s contents, agitates and mixes the waste with soil, burying it in the ground for quick decomposition. This approach helps to achieve two goals:

1.  As the dignity toilet needs only to be maintained every 7 days, rather than after every use, the community is much more likely to comply with safe and sanitary disposal.

2.   By utilizing a composting method for the waste a water and sewage infrastructure is not required, decomposition takes place much quicker and unsafe conditions do not linger.

The Dignity toilet represents a change in the way we approach third world sanitation and waste. It is a system that relies on community compliance, not creating an infrastructure, to solve a communal issue. It is a product that inspires pride in its owners, not a disposable commodity, to inspire its use.  Through this empathetic approach we respect not only the issue at hand, but the people affected.