A lightweight 'smart' toilet designed for use in disaster zones is set to be deployed in a Philippines refugee camp. Its designers say the eSOS toilet takes a holistic approach to providing relief and sanitation. Sharon Reich reports.
STORY: Emergency sanitation in disaster zones can compound the initial tragedy, causing disease and an increased risk of death among survivors. Too often holes in the ground serve as makeshift toilets. Damir Brdjanovic, and his team at UNESCO-IHE want to change that. They've developed the Emergency Sanitation Operation System - eSOS for short - an experimental toilet running on solar power. The lightweight system is easily transportable, and uniquely deals with the entire emergency sanitation chain, including re-cycling urine into irrigation water. SOUNDBITE: (English) PROFESSOR OF SANITARY ENGINEERING, DR. DAMIR BRDJANOVIC, SAYING: "It's a holistic approach to the emergency sanitation. It involves several components, eSOS smart toilet, smart transport and dislodging of each toilet unit and centralized treatment of feces and urine and the safe disposal of materials, like dry sludge, which is pathogen-free and the clean water which can be reused further in the system." eSOS includes "smart" features such as an energy supply unit, a GPS sensor, and a monitor that tracks waste accumulation. Data can be transferred to an emergency coordination center so officials can determine what needs there are in an area. As for its practical capability, the eSOS's recycles liquid waste with help of membrane bio-reactors. SOUNDBITE: (English) PROFESSOR OF SANITARY ENGINEERING, DR. DAMIR BRDJANOVIC, SAYING: "It's a novel technology which will treat liquid part to the level that you can even at the end, with some disinfection, have re-use of water for either toilet use or irrigation, horticulture, or any other purpose that you can imagine in a refugee camp." The toilet is still in the testing phase and will be deployed in a refugee camp in the Philippines later this year. Its developers hope that by bringing disaster relief into the 21st century they can save lives and the dignity of refugees.