The Center for WaSH-AID translates scientific research into the creation of user-focused sanitation systems designed to improve people’s lives. Our research focuses on water and sanitation, hygiene, and infectious disease diagnostics. We tackle a range of complex, multidisciplinary challenges that overlap with one or more of these areas, developing technologies such as the Reclaimer, the Empower Sanitation Platform, and a menstrual hygiene management unit - S.H.E.(Safe Hygiene for Everyone).
The challenge is enormous, as is the opportunity. Providing safe sanitation is a cornerstone in the effort to reduce global poverty and increase gender equality. Ensuring access to clean water and sanitation is the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #6, one of 17 areas that must be addressed by 2030 to significantly reduce global poverty. Currently:
- 4.5 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program, 2017).
- Sanitation-related diseases kill more than 800,000 people each year (WHO).
- More than 500 million women and girls lack access to facilities that provide the physical requirements for effective management of menstrual bleeding (World Bank, 2018).
- Lack of safe sanitation facilities is one of the primary reasons 130 million school-age girls are not pursuing their education (ONE).
The Center leverages partnerships to fill critical technology gaps and to increase the likelihood that user-centered sanitation innovations will advance from concept to market, creating lasting, large-scale impact. We involve users – particularly girls and women - in the design, development, and prototyping of sustainable sanitation systems. A system will succeed only if it is adapted to the specific cultural, technological, and economic needs of the community for which it is designed.