Jessica Altenburger wrote a post for Forbes Magazine in collaboration with Ashoka on why the complexity of sanitation goes beyond the toilet.
“Talking about sanitation on a technical level, it is important to consider the full spectrum of human waste. I like to call it the 3 Ts: Toilet technology, Transport and Treatment. For an average city in an industrialized country, this would mean a flush toilet connected to a sewer that leads to a sewage treatment plant. But for sewer systems and treatments to work, water is a crucial factor. With increasing populations, sewer constructions, maintenance and sewage treatment have become very costly and complex. If the amount of sewage overwhelms a plant’s capacity, in most countries it will be simply released into open waters or landfills and cause contamination. So imagine what the 3 Ts would look like in a city in a low-income country that lacks infrastructure, piped water supplies, sewers, treatment facilities and capital; and you see that none of the Ts as we know them fits the circumstances, nor seems to be an adequate option for the future.”