Aug 22, 2013

American Standard Awarded Grant to Improve Sanitation in Africa

The grant will be used to develop a hygienic toilet pan that can operate in a rural environment where water is scarce

American Standard Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Africa grant SaTo

In 2012, American Standard Brands 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. 

Now, 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 in fall 2013 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," said Jim McHale, Ph.D., vice president of research, development and engineering at American Standard Brands. "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.”

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.

The original SaTo toilet pans received positive feedback in field-testing by improving the sanitation and quality of life for users in Bangladesh. These cost effective, hygienic toilet pans use simple mechanical and water seals to close pit latrines off from the open air, thereby reducing disease transmission and odor.

Careful planning took place during the research and development process to ensure that the SaTo pan was affordable for the local population to purchase. American Standard created partnerships with local manufacturing companies so the product could be made in Bangladesh at a low cost. This type of sustainable business model will also be incorporated into the production of a latrine pan for Sub-Saharan Africa, so the company can again deliver an improved sanitation experience that is affordable to the local population.

Worldwide, 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation. Every day, 2,000 children die from lack of proper sanitation. The United Nations has set a 2015 Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of people who lack access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

The work being done by American Standard in Bangladesh and Sub-Saharan Africa is designed to help make this goal a reality. Plus, American Standard is donating hundreds of thousands of SaTo sanitary toilet pans to Bangladesh via non-profit distribution organizations, one for each of its Champion toilets sold in North America in 2013.

"American Standard has a proud history of advancing modern sanitation in the United States," said Jay Gould, president and CEO of American Standard. "We believe it's important to continue building on this tradition by helping to end the global sanitation crisis. We value the opportunity to be part of the solution."