Project Lead(s): Walter Gibson
Globally, about 2.5 billion people lack access to decent sanitation, leading to avoidable illness and death.
India accounts for over 600 million people who lack toilets and practice open defecation. The majority of these are in rural areas, where adoption of conventional pit latrines has been low.
A new solution is needed that is cheaper, effective and requires lower maintenance than existing septic tanks.
This project aimed to commercialize the Tiger toilet, which uses composting worms (the tiger worm) to degrade fecal solids, combined with filtration to treat the liquid effluent.
The Tiger toilet takes up half the space of a twin pit latrine, is more effective in treating fecal waste, will need less frequent emptying and is low cost. It is linked to a pour flush toilet with a water seal, thus providing a hygienic environment, free of smells and flies.
Commercialization involved further developing the product to ensure it could be sold at an affordable price point (prototypes were costing $500), as well as scaling up key elements of the supply chain, particularly worm breeding.
The team engaged strongly with state and national government officials to gain recognition for the technology, and to ensure that it would be eligible for subsidy that is provided to enable low-income families to purchase toilets.
They then made an initial market entry, by direct sales promotion at the village level to test demand, which resulted in an order for about 100 toilets.
Subsequently, the team has continued to make direct sales to villages and have broadened out exploration of potential customers to include charities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and corporations.
The project team successfully developed a business blueprint and a commercial prototype for the Tiger toilet, and demonstrated demand for these toilets in India.
Orders for 315 toilets have been secured and the team has a pipeline of over 300 potential orders.
The first-generation commercial prototype is working well and is priced at the equivalent of $320 to $370.
The team has also established eligibility for a government subsidy and has been included on a national list of innovative sanitation technologies by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
A wormery has been established and has achieved production levels of 25 kg per week, which is sufficient to meet current sales.
Of the 315 toilets sold, 144 have been installed and are now in use, meaning that approximately 720 people have switched from open defecation and have the privacy and dignity of their own toilet.
The team plans to apply for Phase II Transition To Scale funding to scale up the project in a two-year program, to expand worm production and to expand sales of the toilet to up to 10,000 units.