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Who is doing toilet and FSM product and technology design / R&D and what are you working on?


I'm interested to learn who is doing product and technology design work related to sanitation and if there was interested to start a community of practice related to this work. I know Water For People is doing some interesting work in conjunction with its sani-hubs. I'm also very interested in a mobile septic tank technology so that a service similar to garbage collection could be modeled for FSM services and so that this technology could be used in informal settlements and slum areas where the population might be forced to move. Then they could take their toilet and the emptying service with them. Any ideas here? Thank you.

6 Answers


Have you seen what Sanergy is doing in Nairobi? ( Their private sector service model offers a refreshingly different approach.


WaterAid in Pakistan just completed first year of a R&D project in collaboration with National University of Science and Technology. The goal is to improve and upgrade current WASH systems and develop new techniques and prototypes for water and sanitation in rural and peri-urban areas of Pakistan. These solutions are expected more sustainable, low cost and viable in addressing WASH issues faced in developing world. Under this partnership, one of the research carried out was to develop low cost on-site wastewater treatment system for rural areas of Pakistan. In this study, a modified septic tank with filter, termed as the anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR) coupled with anaerobic peat filter (APF) was developed. The study aimed at providing an onsite domestic wastewater treatment that was able to produce an effluent quality meeting the national environmental quality standards (NEQS) (Pak-EPA). The system was operated at HRTs of 48, 36 and 24 hours where optimum HRT was found to be 25 hours based on the treatment performance indicators. The ABR and ABR-APF was able to produce an average removal of 80, 76, 80, 92% and 89, 88, 90, 99% in terms of COD, BOD5, TSS and faecal-coliforms, respectively. The average removal percentage for nutrients (nitrite, nitrate, and phosphate) was found to be varying between 30-70%. The system requires no energy and works under the natural gravity hence it is suitable for countries like Pakistan suffering from energy crises.


Hi All, these answers are very helpful. Thank you.

Joe-- i'm very familiar with Sanergy and the great work they are doing.

Cor-- Great resources. Thank you.

Naveed -- really exciting research, thank you for sharing.

In terms of R&D -- i'm also keen to know if there is any commercial level R&D happening above and beyond the Gates Reinvent the Toilet work. I'm thinking companies with manufacturing facilities and the capacity to make prototypes, etc. I'm also wondering if there are any advocacy efforts focused on encouraging governments to make investment in commercial R&D for sanitation as was recommended in WSP's Report Tapping the Market --

Thank you again for all of the responses so far.


Check out the Sanitation Business Catalogue produced for the 2014 World BoP Convention - it lists 27 sanitation sector businesses -

CDietvorst gravatar imageCDietvorst ( 2015-04-08 12:43:21 )
Safe Water Strategy

Dear John,

On the projects page of SuSanA you will find information on ongoing sanitation research and product development initiatives. You can use the filters to narrow your search to for eaxmple Faecal sludge transport or FSM.

The University of Leeds, together with local partners in Bangladesh, have just completed the Value at the end of the Sanitation Value-chain' (VeSV) FSM project - check out the final report.

One of the VeSV project partners, IWMI, is doing a lot of research on FSM in both Asia and Africa.

In 2012, IRC published a case study on the honey-suckers in Bengaluru (India), who provide a faecal sluge collection service for households not served by the sewerage network.


Dear John, Please see the below link.

Thanks and best regard -Sofrul


A key issue is the design of latrines which have little odor, no fly breeding, easy construction and affordability. This search began in Thailand back in 1959 and was influenced by a 1954 WHO publication by E. G. Wagner and J.N. Lanoix. India had experimented with a hand-made concrete bowl with a water trap to serve as a squat-plate pit latrine. This innovation became highly popular, attracting commercial groups to produce them in mass from porcelain and plastic. Virtually every rural Thai home has such a latrine, which is also popular in Malaysia, Indonesia, E. Timor. and elsewhere. A detailed write-up can be found in the publication: Choosing a Career in Development by Dr. Barry Karlin via