Understanding how people innovate for emergency sanitation: A case study of a local NGO

Yoke Pean Thye, A. J. Effendi, P. Soewondo, D. Brdjanovic, T Setiadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Emergency sanitation technologies make up some of the most significant gaps in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector. Major initiatives to address identified gaps may be characterised as donor-funded, top-down processes driven by international or European-based non-governmental organisations. However, local organisations also innovate. To better understand how local organisations innovate for emergency sanitation, the paper presents a case study of an Indonesian NGO who had developed a toilet for use in emergencies. The NGO developed the toilet by modifying an existing non-emergency toilet. The process was unstructured and informal. When testing ideas, for instance, the NGO used their own methods rather than referring to testing protocols recognised by the industry. The NGO surveyed end users, but the respondents did not come from post-disaster settings. Compared to designs developed through international initiatives, the NGO’s design deviated somewhat from internationally recognised standards, for instance, the size of the latrine slab. The paper also discusses differences between the way local and international organisations develop emergency sanitation products. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages in terms of methodology and access to resources and expertise. Therefore, there are potential benefits to the different organisations working more closely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)704-710
JournalWater Practice and Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Emergency
  • Innovation
  • Sanitation


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