As cities in developing countries grow, diseases can spread quickly because people in the sprawling slums have no access to toilets.
But help can be found in the form of a small toilet. Professor Anders Wilhelmson, a Swedish architect and urban planner, has developed a simple alternative to the flush toilet: Peepoo, a single-use toilet in the shape of a bag.
When unfolded, Peepoo measures 14 by 38 centimeters and therefore fits atop all standard buckets. After being used, Peepoos are collected at a central location and then both the toilet and the content are composted. Peepoo is made mainly of the biodegradable plastic ecovio®, developed by BASF. Peepoo also contains urea, which turns into ammonia when it comes into contact with urine and feces. Ammonia destroys the dangerous disease-causing bacteria within just a few days and accelerates decomposition. Peepoo disintegrates within a few months, leaving behind valuable nitrogen fertilizer – a rare commodity in Africa.
The single-use toilets have been distributed following natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, with the help of aid organizations. They are also being used in Kenya and Pakistan. The company Peepoople was established to produce and distribute this solution, which improves hygiene and protects the limited local drinking water resources from becoming contaminated. For users, the costs are barely more than the equivalent of 3 euro cents per toilet. In most cases, public toilets are more expensive and dirtier. It makes things especially easier for women who lack toilet facilities in their home and have to make a long and often dangerous journey at night away from their settlements. Those who return the used Peepoo to a collection point receive approximately one euro cent back. Thanks to donations, the single-use toilets have been distributed to more than 60 schools.
Wilhelmson wants to continue to expand this project. His goal is to have 150 million people using Peepoo every day and for Peepoople to become “what could be described as the ‘Google’ of sanitation.”