“Rapid latrines” designed for children are much needed
By William Carter Senior Officer, Water, Sanitation and Emergency Health Unit, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva
Toilets are not the easiest things to talk about, even if the
lack of toilets is one of the world's most critical public health
concerns. Yet, for all the squeamishness that surrounds it, this is
an issue we can all understand through personal experience.
Although most people in the developed world have probably never
gone without clean drinking water, we have all had a problem
finding a toilet at some time. Think about a visit to an unfamiliar
city, getting stuck in traffic, or seeing the queue for the toilets
at a sporting event. Unfortunately, for billions of people around
the world life without a clean and accessible toilet is a daily
fact of life. This is a health issue, universal sanitation would
save millions of lives, but is also an issue of human dignity.
When, not if, the world achieves universal sanitation coverage
we will see gains in human health and dignity that no other
intervention can provide. While this accomplishment is inevitable,
current progress towards the goal is unacceptable. Sanitation is
everybody's business; from individuals, families and communities to
government leaders and the broader international community.
Discussion is only the first step. Delivery of sanitation takes
effort, time and resources and needs at least as much of these
three, probably more, than water supply currently receives. To this
end, the IFRC is calling on donors to balance funding between
sanitation and water programmes by 2015.
We currently stockpile and deploy 'rapid latrines' as part of
our water and sanitation emergency response equipment
packages. However, these are all designed for able body
adults and are not customized for children, the disabled or the
elderly. Toilets will never be one-size fits all. We need to
remember that different people in a society have different needs.
This is particularly important with children. A rapidly deployable
toilet that children find welcoming is a much needed
The innovative design from ICONO provides, as far as I can see,
the most needed improvements of "rapid latrines" that we are
looking for: it is safe and comfortable for children, it can easily
be fitted for disabled with a temporary stool - and on top of that
it is much easier to keep clean than the present designs of