SquatEase poised to help increase use of squat toilet and reduce open defecation
The widespread practice of open defecation is a major source of contamination of India’s fresh water resources. It causes severe illness among millions of people across the country every year. At the heart of the problem is not just a lack of access to toilets but also a disinclination to use them. A recent innovation may help to change that.
The squat toilet, so common in India that it is popularly known as the Indian toilet, can certainly be a challenge to use. Holding your balance while in a squatting position puts a lot of stress on the knees. It can be particularly difficult for the elderly and, over the years, can cause knee problems.
Satyajit Mittal believes he has found a better way. His innovation derives from the observation that, when squatting, many people prefer to sit on their toes, with heals raised. This shifts their center of gravity forward making a more stable stance that reduces the risk of falling backward, compared with squatting flat-footed. At the same, the heels-up posture reduces the area of contact between the foot and the floor, placing greater strain on the knees to maintain balance.
Accordingly, Mittal’s design provides sloped foot placements that provide support for the full foot while in the heels-up position, making it easier to maintain balance with less knee strain. The inclined steps also give the user no option but to use the toilet in the one direction for which it was designed, making for easier cleaning with less water.
Aptly named SquatEase, Mittal’s design received the Swachh Bharat Puraskaar 2018, the top prize for innovation awarded at the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention, held recently in New Delhi (September 29 to October 3).
As the director of Sanotion Private Limited, a startup he founded in association with the World Toilet Organization, Satyajit Mittal is a designer turned entrepreneur. He brings a keen eye for detail and a passion for deconstructing problems to the challenge of finding creative solutions that can play a role in addressing real world issues.
His product, SquatEase, has received recognition, grants and awards from several international organizations and is poised to make a positive change in the lives of people living ‘at the base of the pyramid’, promote good sanitation and hygiene practices, and help put an end to open defecation in India.
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