Smart toilets for emergencies

There is already one being tested in the Philippines: The first ‘smart toilet’ from Unesco-IHE is not only hygienic, safe and cost-effective, but can also identify health problems. 

In disaster areas where many people are living together in poor conditions, diseases are lurking. Sanitation plays an important role – a hole in the ground or overflowing emergency toilets are breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. If the flow of waste is better ‘managed’, the risk will be eliminated and the quality of life will improve considerably. Professor Damir Brdjanovich from Unesco-ihe studied the issue, and then took it one step further. He envisioned a smart toilet, one that was not only hygienic, safe and afford - able, but was also a source of information about the situation in an area.

The initial results of the study are currently being tested in the Philippines: The Emergency Sanitation Operating System, shortened to esos, is being tested here for functionality and acceptance. This lightweight, easy-to-maintain toilet is equipped with sensors that collect the relevant data. Based on this information, the separate urine and faeces tanks can be emptied at precisely the right moment to be processed into water, fertilizer and fuel. And by tracking the average body weight or monitoring the ratio of urine to faeces, experts can identify imminent malnourishment or dehydration at an early stage.

Brdjanovich emphasizes that this is an interdisciplinary project. The request came from Unesco, the innovative software is from Bosnian company Systech and the design is from Delft-based agency flex/the innovationlab. “We have made a compact package that is easy to transport,” explains designer Ronald Lewerissa. “The shipping pallet transforms into the toilet’s foundation during installation. The water tanks are incorporated into the walls and the urine tank is part of the stairs. The aim was to make this toilet as functional as possible for the lowest possible price.” |