Challenging sanitation innovators to improve flood-proof toilet designs

The SanTech Hackathon, a concept envisioned and created by WASTE adviser, Henock Belete Asfaw, hosted and supported by our joint FINISH Mondial programme’s Technical Working Group, has become an annual toilet design competition due to its success. We are seeking technical innovations which address different challenges faced in sanitation. In the first contest call, we received 60 applications from 14 countries. This year, we are seeking innovations in flood-proof toilet designs, especially for countries like India and Bangladesh where this is a critical challenge.

Why this second contest? What does it add to the first one?

The two contests are different but build on each other. The first annual SanTech Hackathon challenged innovators to come up with methodologies to reduce costs of the three most common sanitation systems (toilets) promoted under WASTE’s FINISH Mondial programme (namely: ventilated improved double pit, double lined pit and septic systems). These are all optional designs which are being implemented in all FINISH Mondial operational areas. The second SanTech Hackathon being hosted this year (2021) is moving to a more specific and pervasive problem—finding a scalable toilet design which is suitable for flood-prone areas.


What has happened in the meantime with the first challenge’s winning concepts?

FINISH Mondial recently signed a contract with Nicola Green, Director of Opero Services in Kenya, to pilot the winning innovation from 2020 in Kenya. We kicked off the collaboration in May of 2021. We will share the results of this collaborative project once the pilot is finalised. We have formulated a team comprised of FINISH Mondial and Opero Services to conduct this pilot.

The minds behind the SanTech Hackathon have committed to bringing innovation where it is needed most. That is why we are working with last year’s winners, Nicola Greene (1st Winner)  to implement her innovation in Kenya. The winning innovation focused on localised solutions for cost-reduction. The first prize by innovator Nicola, introduced the Vertiver grass, safe and quality latrine construction to complement natural solutions: The solution proposed to replace traditional pit latrine construction (concrete and bricks) with PVC barrels and Vertiver grass. The PVC barrels will contain the solids while liquid effluent is treated by Vertiver grass. The innovator proposed three concept designs including, (i) dry pit, (ii) wet pit, and (iii) advanced wet pit and notes that this simple technology can easily be replicated and quality assured.

Learn more about this year’s finalists here and join us on Wednesday July 28th 11.00-12.00 CEST to find out who this year’s winners will be and vote live in the 4th category – crowd favourite! Register for the event here.

Authored by: Henock Belete Asfaw & Fadli Mustamin
Edited by: Lauren Pope