In the discussions of energy scenarios and complex planning, the simple but really important ways in which off-grid renewables can improve quality of life in developing countries is ignored. One is the use of photovoltaic (PV) based technology to enhance the use of latrine facilities at night.

Over 2.5 billion people – roughly 36 per cent of the world’s population – still lack what many of us take for granted; access to adequate sanitation. Some 2.2 million deaths per year are caused by sanitation related illness and diseases, with a high percentage being children under the age of five.

As a result a UK group that manufactures timber garden buildings in the UK has designed new sanitation solutions for humanitarian aid and international development. The company recently became involved in a charity project in cooperation with Oxfam (an international humanitarian organisation, dedicated to the fight against poverty in the world) and has already started launching its raised latrines and latrine superstructures to Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Dunster House director Chris Murphy believes these products could provide potential solutions for many other communities across the globe. “Our latrines offer full privacy and security that allows individuals to have access to a dignified toilet facility. They are ideal for domestic and communal use during the interim stage following an emergency situation,” he says.

Raised Latrine has been designed for built up urban areas and locations with rocky ground or high water table. It features stairs which can be positioned from the front or side. The raised platform and waste collection tanks present a stable construction for multiple cubicles – latrine superstructures which can be securely positioned on top of an 800 mm x1,200 mm squat plate or trench latrine.

One of the optional extras is 12 V off grid solar PV lighting that can provide extra security and allow individuals to safely use a toilet facility at night. The complete system comprises of a 15 Watt PV panel that can be fixed to the roof of a toilet cubicle with a steel power box containing batteries, light sensor and solar charge controller. The LED bulbs are cased securely within the plastic bulkhead, which can be securely positioned above the entrance to a toilet cubicle of a raised latrine or superstructure latrine.

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