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 modular, scalable technologies such as the Reclaimer for rapid, compact, decentralized wastewater treatment and S.H.E.(Safe Hygiene for Everyone), a compact, fully automated sanitary pad disposal unit designed to safely and discreetly treat menstrual hygiene waste.
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:
- 4.2 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program, 2019).
- 827,000 people in low and middle-income countries die as a result of inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene each year, with inadequate sanitation estimated to cause 432,000 of these deaths (WHO, 2019).
- 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.