The Syrian refugee crisis has gripped headlines and shone a spotlight on needs for temporary shelters to house the displaced. Part of these needs are toilets, and many people in the world still lack these sanitary fixtures. It's a problem that causes 3.4 million deaths from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related (WASH) issues per year.
Refugee camps are just one example of how many in the world suffer from the lack of sanitary facilities. Now a former design student from Georgia Tech, Jasmine Burton, wants to help solve this global problem, creating a toilet system called SafiChoo. Burton specifically designed it to be inexpensive and ergonomic, as well as to accommodate the cultural diversity of toilet use around the world.
With the help from the Georgia Center of Innovation for Manufacturing — which helped get the ball rolling on making the SafiChoo design a reality — Burton is working to manufacture these toilets through a company called Wish4WASH (W4W) LLC. Although the toilets can be used in any location that needs them, Burton is specifically targeting refugee camps around the world.
The toilet system is currently in its third prototype iteration, undergoing some changes based on a pilot test of the latest design in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, according to Burton.
Often in refugee camps and disadvantaged areas of the world, toilets are mere holes in the ground or communal pits, which create serious health hazards. Burton said she was inspired to design SafiChoo, when she found out during her first year of college how the lack of proper toilets was especially affecting women’s education in certain parts of the world.
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