OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Smart Toilet

Eco-friendly toilets that aim to provide renewable biogas energy and improve poor Sanitation issues in Malawi.

Photo of Clement Kandodo
4 2

Written by

What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

According to UNICEF, 62% of Africans lack access to adequate sanitation, and only 15% of Malawians Have access to improved sanitation. Close to 4.8 million use pit latrines and practice open defecation leading to deep public health, and environmental issues. This is followed by ancillary problems like risks of sexual assault, missed schooling and poverty. The latrines get filled up really quick, produce bad odor and contaminate ground water due to percolation of the fecal fluid to the underground water. The latrines are also faced with lack of affordability, the difficulty of emptying, huge area uptake and flash-water scarcity. This exposes the users to diseases like typhoid and cholera putting their health at greater risk, People in low-income areas suffer most as they are more vulnerable. This includes households and slum dwellers.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Human waste management has been challenged especially for peri urban areas in Malawi due to the number of users and the high cost of building the proper infrastructure to facilitate the same. Building of latrines has worsened the situation because they get filled up really quick, produce bad odour and contaminate ground water due to percolation of the faecal fluid to the underground water. This exposes the users to diseases like typhoid and cholera putting their health at greater risk.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Smart Toilets provide a win win situation for families and the environment, taking what could have been thrown away and make productive use out of it. Smart Toilets create a generation that is responsible to protect all the ecosystem and empower poor families to be product, richer and health.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

EcoGen has Brought a unique and innovative solution that integrates measures of environmental, social and economic benefits by manufacturing, supplying and installing accessible and environmentally friendly toilets called Smart Toilet systems that are primarily hygienic toilets that also captures all the gas potential in human waste. Smart Toilet Plants manage this waste and produce gas that can be used for heating purposes. The plant also ensures complete digestion of the waste and the exiting slurry (by product of digestion process also called bio-fertilizer) is full of nutrients and safe to use as fertilizer for the farm, lawns and play grounds. This technology eliminates the need of having exhauster every 2-3 months in managing such waste.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

The biodigester requires as little space as 2.6 B*3ft H*5 L Sq. ft. The technology is easy to maintain as it treats human-waste on-site and does not require piping it off-site for treatment. The treated waste produces clean energy to use for heating and serves as manure and water for agricultural use, creating additional value for customers and for the environment. All in all, having EcoGen Smart Toilet is a win win situation for the consumer and environment, saving on the financial and environmental costs of water pollution, poor sanitation, burning wood or charcoal and saving on time. In a landscape like Malawi where sanitation and energy is short in supply this EcoGen smart toilet provides an affordable and accessible solution.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

EcoGen Smart Toilet aims to become a leading responsible and inclusive sanitation and waste management services brand in developing countries. Our toilets will not just helping to improve the poor sanitation situations in these communities but also enhancing health and income along with protecting the environment. We would also like to train and engage youth in the communities by giving them access to important transferable skills and employment. This will promote a wider dissemination of the emerging technology while bringing in new jobs.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

This idea we are going to do a pilot in Lilongwe Peri urban area called Kawale. We have chosen Kawale, because the area is densely populated and has registered number of deaths due to cholera and typhoid. Majority of the households use pit latrines which contaminates underground water and people use untreated water taken directly from borehole exposing them to wide range of diseases. Government waste management services are already stretched with the amount of waste produce. Lilongwe has an urbanization rate of 4.3%, one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. ( As the population of Kawale continues to expand, there will be increasing amounts of such cases. it is with this background that we developed Smart Toilet to tackle the issue of poor sewage and waste management by providing septic tanks that can convert the available human waste and kitchen waste into biogas energy and fertilizer hence improving the sanitation.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Government and other developmental organisations have been putting much effort to help the community address this challenge. people have been trained and encouraged to use treated water and government has set up waster transfer stations where the waste are recycled into different products by a group of women who have also been empowered to champion the practice of hygiene and sanitation in their communities. EcoGen has taken an initiative by training the women from kawale community on waste management and waste innovation (as seen in the picture attached). we are also installing a biogas plant that will convert the organic waste collected from this community to produce biogas energy for 15 homes to use for cooking and lighting.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

1. International conservation and clean up management 2. our world international

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Other

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Product: A new or enhanced physical product that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Group or Organization Name


Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

EcoGen is a social enterprise operating in Malawi founded in 2018 to provide innovative and sustainable biogas technology solutions for production of renewable biogas energy and fertilizer to rural and urban households to reduce food shortage, poverty and climate change. EcoGen promotes a world where waste is a resource and people are empowered and productive. Since inception in 2018, we have reached 2000 people advocating for use of renewable biogas energy and waste management. EcoGen has a team of 4 young people based in Lilongwe peri ubarn (kawale), working tirelessly to take this dream to reality, responsible to make day to day plans and implementations of different programs of the organisation. The team includes: Clement Kandodo, Beatrice Wonondo, Josephy Njoka, and Precious Kanyenda. The team is very passionate about social change and professionally well experienced in the areas of: Social Entrepreneurship, Environmental Healthy, Engineering and Renewable Energy Technologies

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a For-Profit Startup or Startup Social Enterprise

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State



Join the conversation:

Photo of Mark Capron

Dear Clement,
Please consider including urine diverting toilets. Check out why at My comments on the "Sani-Initiative" entry have more details.
You might also want to coordinate with the other sanitation entries. Ideally, you might all combine and offer a catalog of options.

Photo of Clement Kandodo

This is interesting, thanks for your feedback we will really take that into consideration, thats really a brilliant idea.

Photo of Hadi Shamieh

Hello Mark and Clement,

While urine diversion is practical for direct use as a fertilizer, it may be risky to allow the public to use it since it needs to be diluted and used within few hours. Plus the extra components needed in the design. I vote for designing the biodigester to handle pee and educating about the potential of using pee separately!

Also, there's another project here about methane biodigester called Eco-Tank. Check it out:
We spoke of potential collaboration there in the comment section if that interests you. :)

Great job leading the change and wish you the best of luck!

Photo of Clement Kandodo

Thank you for sharing the insight. i happy to join this collaboration to share more insights on biodigester.