LIXIL makes pioneering water and housing products that solve everyday, real-life challenges, making better homes a reality for everyone, everywhere.
Promote and enable access to safe and hygienic sanitation practices, especially for women and girls, while protecting children from harmful infectious diseases.
An estimated 1.7 billion people, or about one-fifth of the global population, live without access to safe, sanitary toilets, and approximately 494 million people regularly defecate in the open. The human cost is devastating with over 700 children under five dying daily from diarrheal diseases caused by unsanitary living conditions. Roughly 2.3 billion people, or one in three of the global population, lack basic handwashing facilities at home, increasing the risk of rampant infectious disease, such as COVID-19.
The lack of safe, clean toilets and handwashing facilities is a crisis crippling opportunities for growth and development across entire regions. Lack of access to sanitation also leaves people, especially women and girls, exposed to the danger of animal attacks and sexual assault while seeking somewhere more private to defecate and contributes to the gender gap in education when girls who have started menstruating feel reluctant to attend classes. Global economic losses from poor sanitation in 2015 were estimated at $223 billion.*1 A 2021 report from WHO and UNICEF on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) No. 6 (Clean water and sanitation) called for a quadrupling of progress to achieve the ambitious targets for 2030, including Target 6.2.*2 To achieve this, we need renewed collaboration between governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private companies, and various other sectors in tackling sanitation and hygiene issues. And that is precisely what we set out to do.
*1 2016 True Cost of Poor Sanitation Survey by Oxford Economics, WaterAid, and LIXIL
*2 “Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020” by WHO/UNICEF
Global sanitation and hygiene is one of LIXIL’s three strategic pillars for addressing urgent global issues under our corporate purpose to “make better homes a reality for everyone, everywhere,” and is positioned as a priority among our material issues. We have set out to improve sanitation and hygiene for 100 million people around the world by 2025 through the introduction of innovative and affordable toilet and hand hygiene solutions.
Our SATO brand is the primary driver for achieving our ambitious goal. Originally launched with a single product, SATO now offers a diverse line of affordable, durable, and innovative toilet and hygiene products and accessories. SATO Toilet Solutions, Connection Systems, and SATO Tap are tailored to the specific characteristics and needs of each region, and are designed to empower people everywhere so they can have a better every day life and a brighter future. SATO’s affordable solutions are complemented by value-added products that help further improve the quality of life over time, while also creating a market demand for products higher in the pyramid.
SATO’s innovative sanitation and hygiene solutions are being used in increasing volumes in over 45 countries worldwide, earning wide praise. However, we cannot achieve the desired impact through product innovation alone. SATO uses a comprehensive approach that extends to the training of local masons and entrepreneurs, and to the development of reliable local manufacturing and distribution capabilities under our Make-Sell-Use business model. We also pursue imaginative outreach methods for raising awareness of global sanitation and hygiene challenges among people in urban and rural areas with the most urgent needs. This is a work in progress, but, thanks to our newly extended global partnership with UNICEF, our formalized partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and links with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and other NGOs, local manufacturers, and retailers, we are now pressing ahead with our 100 million target and building sustainable frameworks that help improve sanitary environments and quality of life and empower rural entrepreneurship.
SATO Toilet Solutions are a range of simple and aspirational, yet affordable, toilets and connection systems designed for use in rural and urban areas lacking access to reliable sanitation. Flushing requires less than one liter of water, using a counterweigh trapdoor that otherwise remains closed to reduce odors and prevent insects, such as flies, from spreading bacteria. The original SATO model, developed based on the needs of communities in Bangladesh, received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Production and sales began in the country – SATO’s first market – in 2013.
SATO products are currently manufactured in six countries of Asia and Africa. Approximately 6.5 million units* have been distributed to 45 countries, contributing to better sanitation for an estimated 35 million people (as of June, 2022).
*The number of SATO products shipped to date.
SATO Tap was developed in FYE2021 as an affordable handwashing solution for use in the home or local community to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since FYE2021, we have used SATO Tap to raise awareness of the importance of hygienic practices in various regions and to improve accessibility to handwashing, ultimately helping prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
SATO Tap uses water in a plastic bottle of various shapes and sizes and uses gravity to release a minimal but stable water flow. As little as 100ml is needed for each hand wash, which is 90% less water than needed with a traditional tap. With a plastic base and nozzle that can easily be manufactured, its simplicity helps keep production costs and retail prices low. Plastic bottles are typically easy to access and, as the SATO Tap promotes their reuse, this product also helps reduce plastic waste. To quickly deliver the product to areas with the most urgent need, production started in India with an existing network of partners in the SATO business, as well as in Tanzania.
Since its launch 370,000 units were donated by LIXIL to 11 countries in Africa, East Asia, and South Asia through our partnerships with UNICEF and other NGOs in the wake of the pandemic. Following investment by LIXIL in manufacturing capabilities in Africa and India, SATO Tap is now ready to be offered as a commercial product. The outlook for commercial sales is positive, as market testing resulted in half of those surveyed saying they would prefer to have more than one tap in their home, while potential customers in water-scarce regions pointed to the low water consumption as a major selling point.
SATO Tap was conceived by an employee involved in developing SATO Toilet Solutions while he was infected with COVID-19. He recognized the urgent need to develop solutions for households which lack water, soap, handwashing facilities, and effective handwashing habits. To ensure SATO Tap could be used across different regions, our product development team focused on local needs and end-user perspectives, such as the need for simple materials and production methods, and affordable pricing.
SATO Tap is now being used across underserved communities to promote affordable and sustainable handwashing. For example, in India, LIXIL joined forces with JICA to convey the importance of handwashing in rural areas, schools, and hospitals through Achhi Aadat (Good Habits) Campaign, a series of animation-enhanced lectures and hands-on SATO Tap experience sessions.
SATO Tap handwashing station using a plastic bottle
Awareness-building activities in India (photo credit: JICA)
Handwashing practice using the SATO Tap stations (photo credit: JICA)
We now offer an increasingly diverse range of SATO products to reach a broader range of customers’ needs and create a sustainable social business. These include the traditional SATO Pan for constructing latrines, the Flex Pan for more affordable retrofit, and the SATO Stool to help engage children, older people, or people with physical challenges. SATO’s Connection Systems for offset pit latrines, the I-Trap and the V-Trap, enable rapid installation and make it easier to achieve safely managed sanitation.
In India, for example, where the government promoted a twin-pit system, we developed the V-Trap toilet system to address local problems of clogging and time-consuming installation. By replacing the traditional, fixed approach to installation with an adjustable V-shaped unit that also uses our unique trap door, the V-Trap toilet enables fast, reliable installation of a twin-pit latrine. That, when combined with a SATO toilet, reduces the risk of clogging and requires approximately 80% less water per flush than conventional toilets. Twin-pit latrines built with SATO are an affordable and effective way to achieve safely managed sanitation in India, and in broader markets.
Installing V-Trap toilet
In addition to product innovation, we collaborate with local manufacturers and NGOs to build regional production capacity and sales systems, and nurture local human capital to maximize the benefits and impact of SATO product installations. We do this through our Make-Sell-Use business model that seeks to create sustainable local sanitation economies by fostering rural entrepreneurship, generating regional employment, and facilitating continuous local improvements.
The training of local masons and plumbers who install SATO toilets is key. To date, more than 19,000 people, including women and young people, in India, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, and other countries have participated in free training programs designed in conjunction with NGOs and international organizations. These training programs are generating improvements in toilet installations and income. We have also started leveraging digital platforms not only to continue mason training during the pandemic, but also to drive demand for rural mason marts and for our local retailers and partners as we seek to engage more people in greatest need of improved sanitation in rural and urban communities.
We pursue targeted projects that also help radiate greater awareness and wider use of toilets and hand hygiene solutions across broader communities.
Our School Toilet Enhancement Program (STEP) aims to upgrade toilets and handwashing facilities in 145 schools across Africa by March 2023, reduce sanitation-related infections for students, and spread awareness among parents and surrounding communities. We are seeking to engage public and private partners to scale up the project, influence toilet design, and ensure inclusivity with a broader range of toilet solutions.
The Sons and Daughters of the Soil (SODAS) campaign run by USAID in Uganda encourages urban workers to convey sanitation improvements when visiting their rural hometowns, and uses outreach programs and social media campaigns to teach local residents how to use the SATO Pan to upgrade open pit toilets. A 2021 user survey suggested SATO toilets are the product of choice for affordable, accessible, and durable sanitation and USAID estimates 750,000 people will benefit from the campaign.
Our Gram Vaani campaign in India uses interactive voice recording to transmit stories that emphasize the importance of good sanitation and the impact of SATO products to regions with little or no internet connectivity. This is an illuminating example of how we are seeking to increase awareness among the hardest-to-reach consumers in an extremely low-touch, low-cost way.
A training session in Uganda
Partnerships are essential for maximizing the impact of our sanitation and hygiene products and marketing and sales activities. We benefit from the strengths of various global organizations, specialist organizations, NGOs, and business partners to help us tailor products, build local production and network hubs, and drive market demand through skills training, sales promotion, and awareness building.
In FYE2022, LIXIL expanded our MAKE A SPLASH! global partnership with UNICEF to tackle the sanitation challenge in India, Indonesia, and Nigeria, three of the world’s most populous countries. This expansion complements the original partnership launched in FYE2019 which reached 2.9 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. The partnership aims to collaborate on new product lines, leverage financing to support local sanitation economies, and to support policy and regulations that strengthen the sector.
In Tanzania, we have been cooperating on a government-driven campaign to ensure universal toilet access by 2025. In India, we installed SATO toilets under UNICEF’s #FlushTheVirus campaign to support healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also collaborated on SATO Tap prototype tests in Bangladesh, India, Tanzania, Kenya, and Ethiopia, enabling us to commercialize the product based on feedback from potential users and retailers.
Building on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in October 2020, LIXIL and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a new five-year cooperative agreement, the Partnership for Better Living (PBL), in October 2021 to improve sustainable access to basic sanitation for two million people by 2026 through the deployment of SATO toilets and SATO Tap handwashing stations in up to 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The PBL is LIXIL’s first direct partnership with USAID, who will co-invest $10 million.
LIXIL and JICA, leveraging their strengths, are working together to improve sanitation and secure access to safe water in developing countries. Since FYE2021, we have been working together in India to raise awareness of hygienic practices such as handwashing. We also collaborated with JICA in FYE2021 to provide a webinar on global sanitation and hygiene to government officials involved in public health from five African countries.
Thanks to our partnership work with the agency, JICA officially recognized LIXIL as a JICA-SDGs Partner for our efforts to help achieve the SDGs.
We work with experienced NGOs, such as Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) in Bangladesh and Population Services International (PSI) in Kenya, to build the value chains that enable SATO installation, to lobby governments to promote sanitation measures, and to receive feedback on product development.
LIXIL is a member of the Toilet Board Coalition, a global alliance of public and private sector partners that aims to develop sustainable solutions to the sanitation crisis. As co-founder of the Toilet Board Coalition, we have served as chair, and we are now assisting with the running of the organization, mentoring entrepreneurs who tackle sanitation problems, and engaging in advocacy.
LIXIL is partnering with customers in Japan to broaden understanding of sanitation and hygiene issues and together help improve sanitary environments in emerging countries.
In FYE2020, we donated a portion of the sales of integrated shower toilets to the Toilets for All Project under our MAKE A SPLASH! global partnership with UNICEF. Approximately ¥26 million in donations to UNICEF has been used to build the infrastructure to help install safe and sanitary toilets and to raise awareness of hygiene issues in local communities.
We also launched an initiative in November 2020 whereby we donate ¥10 to MAKE A SPLASH! for every purchaser of a LIXIL product who registers as a member of the LIXIL Owners Club.
We also convey information relating to global sanitation and hygiene issues through our website and a YouTube channel as part of our LIXIL x SDGs NEXT STAGE activities designed to help achieve the SDGs together with LIXIL customers, business partners, and children that will form the next generation in Japan. In FYE2022, LIXIL’s SDGs ambassador Atsuto Uchida, a former Japan national team football player, led the Sanitation and Hygiene Action Project with Atsuto Uchida during which he introduced the current situation with regard to sanitation and hygiene and LIXIL’s initiatives in a video. We made a donation to the MAKE A SPLASH! campaign based on the number of views.
In December 2018, LIXIL received the Deputy-Chief’s Award, given by Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the 2nd Japan SDGs Awards. LIXIL’s efforts to tackle sanitation issues, including the development of SATO products and the solving of challenges throughout the value chain, as well as advocacy in collaboration with NGOs and international bodies, have been recognized through various awards. Most recently, we are recognized for the innovative new SATO Tap launch.
LIXIL believes that everyone should have access to safe sanitation and hygiene. With a team of specialists in technology, design, and product development, LIXIL is leading the creation of experimental new toilet systems across multiple initiatives.
LIXIL began collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2018 on a household “reinvented toilet,” and is contributing to the next phase of this initiative in collaboration with Georgia Tech University under the G2RT Project. The off-grid system is designed to safely treat human waste on site, without the need for transport or later treatment. The first units from the consortium are in pilot testing.
SATO is researching the use of inexpensive treatment solutions for pit latrines to complement the SATO portfolio of products, creating a platform for more solutions for safely managed sanitation in rural and peri-urban communities.
LIXIL is piloting innovative sanitation and water efficiency solutions in the US where two million people live without basic access to sanitation. Building on the successful start to an initial pilot of treatment technologies in rural Alabama, LIXIL announced the establishment of LIXIL Public Partners to strengthen collaboration with the public sector including exploring ways to scale this pilot to new communities and to test additional solutions.
LIXIL has collaborated with Oxford Economics and international NGO WaterAid to conduct a study in 2016.