UNICEF: "We're looking forward to seeing the real product and initial field testing results"
"1.5 million children are dying of diarrhoea
every year. Diarrhoea is, in fact, the second leading cause of
death among children under 5, globally; it kills more young
children than AIDS, malaria and the measles combined. Many of these
children's lives could be saved if they had access to improved
sanitation", says Chris Cormency of UNICEF.
Chris Cormency, who is Chief of Water, Sanitation and Education
Center, UNICEF Supply Division in Copenhagen, has been working with
and advising ICONO and Peter Bysted in connection with the process
of designing The Child Friendly Latrine. UNICEF is primarily
interested in the latrine for emergency situations, where displaced
people are grouped inside concentrated, provisional settlements
without adequate access to sanitation. In these situations, what is
essential is to isolate faecal matter in order to prevent an
outbreak of diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera. In addition to
reasons related to good health, it is also crucial, as a basic
human right, to enjoy safe and dignified access to sanitation
"The latrine slabs that we provide today for emergency
situations have certain limitations. They can be perceived as
dangerous and scary from a small child's perspective, so much so
that the children might not want to use them. In addition, the
latrines in current use do not fully isolate the faeces. Thus,
there is often an odour associated with the latrines. Furthermore,
flies can fly in and out of the hole. Flies constitute a vector of
diarrheal transmission, landing first on faeces and then on food.
One additional problem of our current emergency latrine slabs is
that they limit access offered to those who are disabled."
"The ICONO design addresses these problems: the drop-hole
material attached to the latrine slab keeps the faeces out of sight
and automatically closes after use, thereby preventing access by
flies. This will accordingly serve to reduce the odour from the
latrines, thereby encouraging their increased usage. Additionally,
we are working with ICONO on designing a module aspect that will
allow for a handicap-accessible stool to be attached, when and if
"With the ICONO design, there is also a feature that will offer
a greater sense of security to the child. The high back, with its
smooth edges, will provide a safe area and allow for easier
Historically, there has been some innovation of latrine slabs
for emergency situations, but these advances have been centred
primarily on decreasing weight and volume in order to optimize
transport of the units," says Chris Cormency.
UNICEF has strict guidelines for purchasing and for their
suppliers. Chris Cormency appreciates ICONO's non-profit approach
and the open-source licensing of the design. "Open-source projects
make supporting innovative product development things easier for us
", Cormency says.