American Standard Brands has received a grant from the foundation, with a focus on addressing sanitation issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. A team of product engineers will visit Zambia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Kenya this fall to learn more about the specific needs in this part of the world. This trip is being planned with iDE, which also partnered with American Standard for the original research trips to Bangladesh.
Scarcity of water in these regions of Africa presents a different challenge as compared to Bangladesh, and will require the development of a new latrine pan prototype. “When we developed the SaTo pan, we never planned for it to be a global solution. We wanted something that would meet the customer needs specifically in Bangladesh,” explained Jim McHale, Ph.D., vice president of research, development and engineering at American Standard Brands.
In 2012, one of the most respected toilet manufacturers in the world partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop the SaTo, a sanitary toilet pan designed to improve sanitation and reduce the spread of disease in Bangladesh. The original SaTo toilet pans received extremely positive feedback in field testing by improving the sanitation and quality of life for users in Bangladesh. These cost effective, hygienic toilet pans use ingeniously simple mechanical and water seals to close pit latrines off from the open air, thereby reducing disease transmission and odor.
“Now we will be applying that same methodology and mindset in Sub-Saharan Africa: understand what people need, determine what’s possible to manufacture locally and economically, and find the match that works,” explained Jim McHale.
Following the research trip, the ultimate goal will be to replicate the sanitation product development model that American Standard successfully used to create the SaTo. This time the objective will be to develop a hygienic toilet pan that can operate in a rural environment where water is less abundant. Prototypes will be tested in the field to obtain feedback from local residents on the effectiveness of the toilet pans during a subsequent trip to Africa.