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OpenIDEO has partnered with Unilever and WSUP (Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor) to explore sanitation issues in Ghana. Together we’re asking you, the OpenIDEO community, to help us come up with sustainable sanitation inspirations and concepts. We'll be focusing on low-income urban areas like Kumasi – the nation’s second-largest city, with a population of more than 1.5 million people.

This OpenIDEO challenge will complement a social innovation project by IDEO, Unilever, and WSUP that is also exploring sanitation solutions for low-income urban areas. The project team will be on the ground in Kumasi for the majority of our Inspiration phase, sending OpenIDEO news updates, Tweets, and photographs from the field to support your enthusiasm for — and thinking about —the challenge. Upon return from Ghana, the team will synthesize your inspirations and identify overarching themes to inform the Concepting phase. In other words, your ideas will help IDEO, Unilever, and WSUP conceive and deploy the solutions to waste-management challenges in Ghana. Get involved!

Phase I: Inspiration

Think about everything from high-tech and portable latrines to household cleaning products and emergency-kit waste bags. The broader you go, the more possibilities we’ll have to consider.

Some questions we’d like you to answer:

  • What does “clean” mean to you?
  • What innovations have you seen in waste-management and sanitation in developed nations or emerging markets?
  • What analogous situations can we think about as we explore this space? Can we find inspiration in the way waste is managed at construction sites, campgrounds, hotels, or even on cruise ships?
  • What effective business or service models related to cleaning, waste removal, or sanitation are you aware of?

Phase II: Concepting

Please tell us about the low-cost, sustainable solutions that you believe will help address waste-management and sanitation issues in Ghana. Think: products, services, business models, and systems. How can your concept(s) be executed efficiently? For this phase, we’ll add details about the current state of sanitation in Ghana as our own Inspirations, as well as provide design constraints to help you hone your concept into a winning solution.

About Unilever and WSUP:

Unilever is a multinational consumer goods company whose products touch 2 billion people worldwide. Unilever is exploring new opportunities in sanitation and waste management. Unilever has recently announced the Unilever Sustainability Living Plan and a commitment to double the size of its business but at the same time reducing its environmental impact.

Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) is a tri-sector partnership between the private sector, civil society and academia with the objective of addressing the increasing global problem of inadequate access to water and sanitation for the urban poor and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal targets, particularly those relating to water and sanitation.

Have ideas already?

Acumen Fund is soliciting ideas about how to make sanitation sexy through a variety of communication channels. Submit your ideas there (prior to November 21) and then be sure to post them again here during the concepting phase which begins December 14.

Do you want to get involved in this challenge?

We follow a process with phases. Currently we are in the Realisation phase. You can participate by adding stories on the impact of this challenge.
122 contributions
68 ideas
22 final ideas
310 days remaining Participate


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Official PCSO LOTTO RESULTS for 2D SWERTRES 6/42 6/45 6/49 6/55 6/58, Philippine PCSO lotto result history jackpot and results analysis

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Do you have a good idea for improving your community? Share your plan to creatively move your community forward at and you’ll be eligible to win $1,000!

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I am not an expert in the area of sanitation but I believe that supplying clean drinking water to a village like the one mentioned in Kumasi is essential. After the water, creating a habit of washing hands with soap is key. Digging water wells is very effective and its success as an effective and sustainable source of water is being seen in Sierra Leone. Then bring in the toilets. If all three are introduced at the same time, better.

We have to think of solutions that can be effective and maintained by the local people. They must be given the responsibility to care for and maintain these improvements. These types of projects should be initiated by the people or local community otherwise, the maintenance and care for them is often neglected. We need to look for solutions that are practical and effective and not too technical.

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I believe an elegant technical and design solution includes something similar to the sanitation system in Arcata, California (, coupled with the seeding of an industry to take advantage of waste materials for commercial gain, thereby creating opportunity and direction toward economic development, with the benefits of locally owned industry and employment opportunities, and technical know-how.. If a market can be identified for products made of recycled materials, the necessary demand can be meet with existing supply.

A sanitation truck can be retrofitted to collect recycled materials, and offset the fees of service. Improved sanitation products and facilities can be created with recycled and re-used materials, thereby repurposing waste material.

Another component might include biodigesters to capture methane for commercial use and for home cooking.

Lastly, some type of land fill or final resting place is likely needed for those products that can not be otherwise utilized. However, if this can purposed for a desired public or private benefit, it will be a more palatable solution.

Ideally, the inherent economic value captured in the waste must ultimately carry the cost of system operations, with the possible seeding of system implementation through an outside funding source.

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I really like this concept. I totally agree with your point " Unilever is a partner with WSUP to solve this problem in Ghana, it is a great company to provide the services, products, and systems as part of its help. " It will help so may people. I am looking forward to know more development about that.

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I agree with Pujitha of what she said in her post, because I also think to help those low-income urban areas is should develop the ideas local and sustainable to help those people who live there.

To be partnered with Unilever and WSUP will give people some ideas of provide some high technologies and cleaning products and emergency-kit waste bags to them, which is really easy to do with them.

And there are several things we could do for them:
1. We could let people know how important that waste management and health clean, to let them better understand why we should do it.

2. Tell them which industry or which kind business need to do it.

3. To provide some high technology products to them, and keep at lower cost.

4. Provide services and system to them to better be executed efficiently.

To allow them to do the solve the waste-management and sanitation issues locally by themselves.

In this challenge, Unilever is a partner with WSUP to solve this problem in Ghana, it is a great company to provide the services, products, and systems as part of its help. Because as the author said in this challenge, "Unilever is exploring new opportunities in sanitation and waste management. Unilever has recently announced the Unilever Sustainability Living Plan and a commitment to double the size of its business but at the same time reducing its environmental impact."

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I have been researching into similar topics and this is what I found:

1. These communities lack the very basic waste management infrastructure like trash bins or other...
2. Similar clean-up efforts launched in India succeeded when they were self-sustaining
3. To make the solution self-sustaining, involve the local community. Some of the ideas could be:
a. Set up a Waste Recycling Plant - need govt help and funding
b. Serve as a supplier for local recycling plans. - This has been the more successful idea in previous implementations when I talked to waste management experts
c. Create local cottage industries which use the waste. Paper Pulp after being treated properly is used to create handmade jewelery.

I believe any idea developed should be local and sustainable.

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I like your idea, and also agree with you that it should be local and sustainable.

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wow!! facing the same problem in my country Liberia

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I feel sad for those people.

it is a shame that some people cannot have basic human rights.

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When working last semester on conditions in Nima, sanitation went back to the urban fabric and re-envisioning a larger-scale system that would work at the community scale. The strongest constant that kept Nima from falling into chaos is the cooperation from the Mother's Club, the action of the youth groups and the strength of the religious identity. Where scattered public toilets to users (private toilets rarely exists there) ratio is 1:4000 roughly, the religious institutions and community centers' ratio to users is 1:800. The gutter at the edge of the border between Mamobi and Nima became a significant cry for help. In recent news, the gutter has been commissioned to be covered from Nima East by the soccer field and Nima West. Our design approach proposed incremental growth anchored at providing a hierarchical road network around existing religious institutions
as the first stage of equal distribution (of resources).

Some of the models of emptying out pit latrines, for examples include one by WaterAid:

Another very interesting model of expanding sewer and water to neighborhoods without proper tenure status looks towards the condominial approach by the WorldBank, which has been successful in Brazil:

And lastly, for designers, thinking of ingenious methods to make use of our waste for short-term solutions to sanitation and safety, here is a design that creates grade 'a' fertilizer from our human waste:

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I just join this site. Even if this challenge is over I just want tell what I know on an eco toilet project that implement in urban area like Addis Ababa.
US-based NGO Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and its partners have been promoting an ecological toilet called the ArborLoo, designed by Zimbabwean Peter Morgan specifically for African conditions. It serves both as a basic toilet and makes use of excreta for growing fruit trees.
The AborLoo is a single pit shallow compost toilet 1.0-1.5m deep comprising a ring beam, slab and structure.
“Each concrete toilet slab costs US$7-20 and anyone can use it. It best suits the elderly and disabled people. You can dig it in half a day and can also plant trees on it.
During use, fly and odour problems are reduced by regularly adding soil, wood ash and leaves to the excreta in the pit. Once full, the old toilet site is covered with soil and left to compost with the parts of the toilet being moved to another place, rebuilt and used in the same way again.
A tree is planted on the old site, preferably at the start of the rainy season, after the old pit contents have composted for a while.

Now the people who use it understand that latrines are important for their hygiene and health. ArborLoo has helped them a lot. They plant fruits, vegetables, trees and above all they are safe from acute watery diarrhoea and other diseases.

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Are you familiar with the UK-based company Red Button Design?
They have a water transportation device that purifies water during transit by reverse osmosis. The action of rolling the device from the water source to its destination provides all the power required to purify the water.

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Though the sanitation challenge is over, just thought you all might appreciate this simple device for opening the bathroom door after washing your hands:

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Watch this video:
Why is it that you, openIDEATOR, has not yet decided actually participate actively in the Sanitation Challenge?
Ends in a few days! We are trying to build something there and we need your contribution!

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Now I am thinking about a two fold problem in developing countries. One the waste issue that we are currently talking about and the need for homes. I have looked into the earth ship idea where they use recycled goods to build their homes. is the site where you can learn more about these homes. The entire idea is based on no waste of any kind so this is a beautiful idea to use with developing countries.

One other thing that you would help address would be the energy needs would be reduced by design.

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Perhaps am late in joining this site. I am a development person working in India and my forte is education for water and sanitation. One of the experiences has been to link Self Help Groups (SHGs) to sanitation. Perhaps nothing new. But a doable idea has been implemented.

SHG members over the years, learn through exposure visits. One idea that clicked was extending loans for building toilets. Yes, it talked about but then have seen it happen not one but numerous women. it is a loan that gets repaid over the prescribed time. With no toilet at home, women would eat less. So that they did not have to go to defecate during the day. They fine tuned their bowel movements to such an extent that they would go out to defecate before sunrise or after sunset. they taught this trick to their daughters too. Security, menstruation, illness were all overcome - somehow.
But the toilet facility impacts the woman's health positively. She begins to eat well - no fear if she has to defecate during the day - now she has a toilet at home. It has increased their confidence levels and many have also built bathrooms. Safety issues for themselves and their daughters gets ensured. Guests appreciate so social status goes up. Plus when their daughter's are to be married, mothers check the to be in-laws house for a toilet !

This can be tried out even in Ghana for example. If more operational details are required do let me now.

Women need their dignity and a toilet provides it immediately!!