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 facilities.

"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 needed."

"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 cleaning.

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.