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Concepting

Our Concepting phase has concluded. We took everything we learned during the Research phase and used those insights to develop our own creative ideas to address the challenge question. Check out the fresh thinking and head over to the current phase to join our collaborative efforts. Also:  Click here to read a quick overview of some of the existing solutions that the team found in Kumasi.

Contribution list

I imagined a concept: allow access for people with mobility problems (disabled, elderly, pregnant women, etc…), it would adapt to changes in demand quickly, would be hygienic and clean (including for the planet), be low cost to everyone (including users) and a potential generator of employment and income. (The bike's image was created in an image editor! The prototype does not exist yet.)

The PeePoo is a brilliant project that addresses existing “flying toilet” behaviors through a single-use sanitizing toilet bag that improves hygiene and creates fertilizer. As the project has been field testing (well worth a look: http://www.peepoople.com/pdf/GTZ_toilet%20bag.pdf , http://www.peepoople.com/pdf/Peepoo.Impact.Assessment.Report.pdf ), there’s likely to be iterative improvements over time. This concept envisions an “upgrade” to the PeePoo that 1) PeePoo users could trade-up to or start off with directly if funds allow, and 2) Bucket Latrine/Chamber Pot/Public Toilet users could switch to for a similar cost. It very much builds upon Jeff’s “PeePoo Bag” inspiration (http://bit.ly/ccACaG), Adriana’s “Toilet Lid” inspiration (http://bit.ly/c6kNIo), and Jocelyn’s connecting comment.

This builds on the observations by the OpenIdeo Ghana Field Team that “in just about every home there [were] cell phones (one or two per family member)” and Andy’s remark that “there’s more cell phones than toilets in Africa”, as well as building comments and additional inspirations by Ashley and others (linked to on the right side). Given the situation, this concept leverages widely available/used mobile phones to improve toilet hygiene and access. Potential labor cost-savings could also be invested to lower usage fees, improve facilities, or build new toilets.

This concept is inspired by the following article “Toilets are being converted to bedrooms in Kumasi “ (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=165948), as its direct commentary on the toilet situation in Kumasi (the region this challenge is focused on) from Ghana’s most widely read newspaper (the Daily Graphic). This article highlights the trend of people “converting…bathrooms in their houses into bedrooms for renting”, which actually violates the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly’s by-laws that “every household in the metropolis is expected to have a toilet facility”, though unsurprising given the city’s ~16% unemployment rate. However, this article also contains the hints towards a possible solution: income generation.

Why let the dirty toilets "fly" about randomly? Why let them create disease? Why let waste be littered around? Why not have a navigation system that directs these to a place where they can be used effectively as resources? This concept draws inspiration from the "Kabadi Walahs" of Delhi, India and their "reverse supply chain" for waste management. The barter of human waste collection service (basically poop-collection) with recyclable material from households can make it economically viable for the service provider and sustainable for the community.

Unmanaged open field toilet practice is a waste of resources and a missed opportunity. This 'natural' resource needs to be utilized! Not only that, but the entire experience needs to be rebranded and re-presented so that the community does not ostracize it but, instead, embraces it as a vital resource to be capitalized on.

This concept is directly inspired by Alessandro’s call to “imagine that people would not have to pay anything to use the bathroom, but that these bathrooms were small factories that produce gas and fertilizer”, as well as by the many other OpenIDEO contributions that I’ve linked to in the text and to the right. I will focus on trying to propose a framework that pays for poop and makes sustainable sense for the challenge’s focus area of Kumasi, Ghana.

Changing behavior, especially among adults, is a very tough thing to do. Given that, I suggest we think about how we can teach the youngest generations in areas like Kumasi to be responsible about their sanitation and waste disposal habits - after all, it's today's kids who will be running these communities very soon. And I think women and mothers are the perfect demographic and vehicle to deliver these kinds of messages.

Reclaimed water recycling pools have been used for decades in Japan and other East Asian countries to sanitize solid human waste and filter water so that it can then be used for 'gray' water purposes such as small scale urban farming projects.

As the elderly population in Japan increases, companies there have developed technology that turns adult diapers (and child diapers) into sterile, odorless, concentrated, portable pellets that can be used for fuel and construction (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20004020-1.html, http://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/used-adult-diapers-get-new-life-as-fuel).

In the same way that microfinance has leveraged group lending to ensure accountability and repayment, NGOs or even for-profit organizations can engage communities in "group buys" of toilets. Communities would pool together resources to apply for a 'toilet loan' and collectively repay that loan. If the group defaulted or didn't maintain the toilet correctly, everyone would lose free access to the toilet (the NGO or company could take over and turn the toilet into a regular public latrine).

When are people most likely to relate to others’ sanitation problems? When they’re feeling the urge to relieve themselves of course! Imagine if awareness/action-raising stickers/posters were placed on the inside of public toilet stalls in the developed world (from restrooms in schools to libraries to restaurants to gas stations; the possibilities are endless). As the toilet user reads the material to be distracted from the task at hand (just like people often have household bathroom reading material, or, in the case of some public toilets, check out the random scrawled phrases and pictures), they learn about sanitation issues elsewhere in the world and are referred to text a # to donate to help build hygienic, environmental public toilets where they are needed most, or for more information. A similar campaign could also target tourists at the airport returning from countries with less developed sanitation systems. Please see below for example campaign text. Image Attribution: http://xkcd.com/229/

Toilet without separation of feces and urine. The manure will be extracted by the vacuum equipment. The city of Kumasi already has equipment and workforce that could do the job of extracting the waste. The toilet has a plastic cover movable, which opens and closes automatically during use. This lid is intended to hide the manure and reduce the smell.

Why solve one challenge when you can solve several at once? This concept is for a public toilet system that: manages the waste disposal process; promotes personal hygiene; reduces the bacterial hazard at source; minimises water consumption; reduces maintenance costs; and harnesses the different motivations of men, women and children to encourage them to use, and maintain, the facilities.

Why solve one challenge when you can solve several at once? This concept is for a public toilet system that: manages the waste disposal process; promotes personal hygiene; reduces the bacterial hazard at source; minimises water consumption; reduces maintenance costs; and harnesses the different motivations of men, women and children to encourage them to use, and maintain, the facilities.

The Women’s Sanitation Union of Kumasi is a neutral organization with a CHARTER signed by Unilever, the Kumasi government and the ‘population’ which will champion, promote and monitor healthy and safe sanitation solutions in Kumasi.

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