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AP/BusinessWeek Examines Efforts To Sell Low-Cost, Portable Toilets In Developing World

The Associated Press/BusinessWeek examines the Singapore-based company Rigel Technology’s efforts to sell “state-of-the-art portable, fertilizer-making, toilets for as low as $30” in developing countries. “Experts estimate about 2.5 billion people lack functioning, hygienic toilets and instead excrete in the open, a habit that can contaminate water supplies and spread diseases such as E. coli bacteria and other viruses,” the publication writes. 

According to Jack Sim, the founder of the World Toilet Organization, health advocates have been trying to encourage companies to invest in low-cost, portable toilets after aid groups’ efforts didn’t completely curb the problem and donations from the developed world were low. “Donated portable toilets would sometimes end up in storage, as the units were poorly distributed and villagers were not taught how to use and maintain them, Sim said. ‘We’ve seen that the donor model doesn’t work,’ Sim said. ‘Now people are taking the marketplace as the solution, because it works fastest when you have a profit motive.'”

AP/BusinessWeek writes: “K.E. Seetharam, director of the Institute of Water Policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, estimated that just 22 percent of India’s rural population and 29 percent of China’s have access to working toilets.” Seetharam said a lot of children in the developing world are malnourished “not because of a lack of food but because of worms in their intestines that they got from unsanitary conditions” (Kennedy, 12/2).