Approximately 40% of human beings alive today - 2.6 billion people - don't have access to toilets.
A Swede named Anders Wilhelmson designed a very simple solution to this problem - a small biodegradable bag called PeePoo with a bacteria-neutralizing urea liner. The problem with PeePoo was that it needed to prove it worked, and affordably. Thus it has taken a few years for PeePoople, PeePoo's social venture company, to get going. Earlier this year, however, the Dutch postal code lottery gave PeePoople nearly $2 million - thereby funding the product's introduction in Nairobi, Kenya through 2013.
Photo Ashley Wheaton via PeePoople and Creative Commons license.
A story by Jonathan Kalan at the web site Dowser tells how the use of PeePoo bags is spreading in the dirt-packed streets of Nairobi's shanytown Silanga, helped in part by a woman nicknamed 'Mama Poo'.
Her real name is Anne Nudge, and she's a micro-enterprise sales representative for Peepoople. Silanga is Nudge's territory, and she goes house to house and in the schools, selling Peepoople's bags for four Kenyan shillings each. These toilet replacements, though they might strange to those of us accustomed to a porcelain throne, can be used anywhere, and the filled bags returned to a local drop-off site for redemption of one Kenyan shilling each.
The redemption system ensures that the bags aren't thrown in the streets and instead are gathered at one stie, where after a few weeks of curing they are ready to be used as rich fertilizer.
Nudge is thus a one-woman sanitation provider, serving as many as 300 customers weekly, and taking the place of some of Silanga's open public toilets, which are unsanitary and sometimes unsafe - especially for women. The bags she sells are also replacing 'flying toilets' - simple plastic bags often left in the streets, contributing to street garbage, ground water contamination, and spreading disease.
PeePoo bags help contain the spread of organisms that lead to the diarrhea that is a major cause of death to children under five years old in developing nations. PeePoo bags have been tested in Bangladesh and also, on a small scale, after the Haiti earthquake of 2010, and the company hopes to make the solution available on a wide global scale.