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More Than just a Toilet: Fusing innovation & Partnerships for a Better World

Rotish Namboothiry is Associate Director-Innovation for Good at Kohler Co.

Kohler and International Development Enterprises (iDE) have partnered to provide safe sanitation solutions to communities in Ghana since 2016. Photo Cred: iDE

KOHLER, Wisconsin, Nov 21 2019 (IPS) - Each year, World Toilet Day* raises awareness of the crucial role that sanitation plays in reducing disease and creating healthier communities.

At Kohler, we’re committed to finding solutions for universal sanitation access by leveraging our design & innovation competencies and partnering with like-minded organizations to bring meaningful innovations to those communities most in need.

It’s time to shine a brighter light on a sad and heartbreaking truth: each day people are dying because of a lack of basic sanitation solutions.

According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, 1 in 3 people lack access to a toilet, open defecation still exists for 10% of the population, and women and girls spend 266 million hours a day trying to find a safe and discrete place to go. The result? Hygiene-related diseases, like diarrhea, that account for 1 million deaths annually. This has to end.

Partners like Water Mission and iDE are making a meaningful impact and changing the story for so many.

In January 2017, Water Mission initiated a Healthy LatrinesTM program to provide safe sanitation to families in in western Honduras. Enter the KOHLER Pour Flush Toilet – an affordable seated toilet that flushes when water is poured in by the user.

To date, Water Mission has impacted over 6,300 people by building Healthy LatrinesTM that include a Kohler pour flush toilet. Additional installations are currently under construction as part of a program to reach 5,000 families in five years.

The organization provides the toilet to the families, who in turn, are asked to help build the Healthy Latrines.

[The Water Mission® organization is a Christian engineering nonprofit that designs, builds, and implements safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas.

Since 2001, Water Mission has used innovative technology and engineering expertise to provide access to safe water for more than four million people in 55 countries. Water Mission has 350 staff members working around the world in permanent country programs located in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.]

“We like the Kohler toilet because it is designed to be practical in its installation,” remarked Hector Chacon, Water Mission’s County Director in Honduras. Moreover, individuals take great pride in the aspirational design and working to improve general sanitation issues.

In addition to its longstanding partnership with Water Mission, Kohler has also worked closely with iDE – a social enterprise organization that developed its own self-enclosed toilet.

As part of an overall effort in Ghana (a country where just 67% of the population lives without access to a toilet), iDE’s brand Sama Sama chose the KOHLER pour flush toilet as an option for those individuals requiring a sitting model, such as families with older members or those with special needs.

Sama Sama Managing Director Osei Agyeman-Buahin said the goal is to consistently innovate to diversify its offering for a diverse customer base.

Our goal is to provide safe sanitation solutions for all and to continue to push ourselves to innovate, iterate and improve upon the solutions we provide. Innovation for Good is Kohler’s internal incubator designed to find new business opportunities that have a social purpose aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At Kohler, we lean into our water and sanitation innovation expertise to create products and solutions that can provide meaningful change.

If we’re going to put an end to the sanitation crisis, the time for real action and strong partnership is now. A better world awaits.

*The theme of World Toilet Day this year was: Leaving no One Behind. According to the United Nations, close to half of the world’s population- or to be exact, 4.2 billion people — are still living without safely managed sanitation. This is not without consequences and it is estimated that inadequate sanitation causes over 400,000 diarrheal deaths every year. The UN’s Sustainable Goal 6 calls for sanitation for all, by 2030. World Toilet Day was commemorated on November 19.

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