Sanitation for a Rapidly Urbanizing World

Over 700 million people living in urban areas globally currently lack access to even basic sanitation, and without innovation this problem will only get worse. The global urban population is projected to increase by 2.5 billion people by 2050, with much of that growth concentrated in informal settlements and locations that are highly vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change impacts*.

It is critical to identify innovative technological solutions, services, and financing mechanisms to meet the sanitation needs of people living in rapidly growing urban settlements.

Why are urban settlements particularly challenging to reach with traditional sanitation technologies?

  • Flush toilets are prohibitively expensive and require scarce and precious water resources;
  • Pit latrines are costly to install, frequently flood, pollute the water table, and they also put emptiers at risk for injury and disease;
  • Septic tanks take up too much space and don’t work when the ground water is high;
  • Sewers are costly to install (so much so that there aren’t actually any sewers in the entire country of Haiti) and they require stable water and energy supplies to operate.

Enter Container-Based Sanitation! SOIL and a group of global innovators have shown that installing simple toilets with a container that can be safely sealed and transported for safe treatment creates a sanitation service that is:

We know SOIL’s solution is uniquely working in our context because we’re helping people who never had sanitation access before get an in-home toilet. In fact, 93% of our customers in Cap-Haitien report having not previously had toilet access!

“I put this plastic sheet around my toilet to keep it as nice as possible. I’ve been given a special gift with this toilet so I have to take care of it.” – Elizane Borgella

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*United Nations. (2014). World Urbanization Prospects: 2014 Revision. Retrieved from

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