This Simple Toilet Can Improve Health and Safety

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Sanitary in-home toilets aren't just comfortable and convenient—they can also help eliminate diseases and deaths caused by poor sanitation.

Aware of this reality, American-based toilet manufacturer American Standard partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation three years ago to create the “SaTo hygienic toilet pan." The SaTo contains a specially designed trapdoor, which opens and closes to dispose of waste. Although variations on this toilet design are common in some developing countries, many others lack even this basic equipment; according to the United Nations, one billion people are forced to practice open defecation around the world.

What makes the SaTo notable is its simplicity and price point. It comes pre-made; it's inexpensive to mass produce; it's easy to install and clean; and it doesn't need a water- and sewer-based infrastructure. American Standard donated one SaTo for every "Champion" toilet they sold between 2013 and 2014. In the next three years, the manufacturer will give 1.2 million SaTos to partners in Bangladesh, Haiti, Malawi, Uganda, and the Philippines. 

Every day, 2000 children die due to dirty water and poor hygiene—a statistic that simple technologies like the SaTo can help reduce. The SaTo is also particularly beneficial for women in developing nations who don’t have access to private bathrooms. As Vice points out, they run the risk of being attacked while relieving themselves in public or by using shared toilets.

Bottom line? The SaTo might not look like a staggering innovation, but even the simplest technologies can make a big difference.

Watch a demonstration of how the SaTo works in the video below: