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 preventing the harmful transmission of diseases for children.
An estimated two billion people – about one-quarter of the global population – live without access to safe, sanitary toilets. Among them, approximately 670 million people still regularly defecate in the open. These figures come with a devastating human cost: each day, over 800 children under five die from diarrheal diseases caused by unsanitary living conditions.
A lack of safe, clean toilets poses particular dangers for women and children. There are countless cases of women or children being sexually assaulted while trying to find somewhere private to relieve themselves. Sanitation issues also contribute to the gender gap in education – the lack of sanitary school toilets has been identified as a reason why girls who have started menstruating feel they are no longer able to attend classes.
The impact of the sanitation crisis is felt throughout entire nations and regions, crippling opportunities for growth and development. In 2015, global economic losses from poor sanitation were estimated at US$223 billion. Among the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, Target 6.2 seeks to “achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations”. This highlights the need for collaboration between governments, NGOs, private companies, and various other sectors in tackling sanitation issues.
* According to “The True Cost of Poor Sanitation”, a 2016 survey conducted by Oxford Economics, the international NGO WaterAid, and the LIXIL Group
Slum in Mumbai
Utilizing our technology and capabilities as an organization, as well as partnerships with various stakeholders, the LIXIL Group is striving to improve sanitation and quality of life for 100 million people by 2020.
Sanitation problems vary by region, depending on the availability of water resources, the level of urbanization, and access to toilet facilities. The LIXIL Group’s Sato Business Division is the primary driver of R&D and business operations tailored to the characteristics and needs of individual markets, including infrastructure, income levels, and environmental restrictions.
The SATO toilet system is a simple, affordable solution intended for use in developing countries. Flushing requires only 0.2-1 liter of water, using a counterweight trapdoor that otherwise remains closed to reduce odors and prevent insects from spreading bacteria. The original SATO model, developed through dialogue with communities in Bangladesh, received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Production and sale began in the country in 2013.
The SATO toilet system is currently manufactured and sold in six countries in Asia and Africa. Including donations, some 3 million units have been distributed to at least 25 countries. Based on an average of five users per unit, SATO is estimated to have contributed to better sanitation for around 15 million people.
SATO works alongside partner companies and NGOs to establish regional production and sales systems based on its underlying philosophy of social business with local roots. By driving the make-sell-use cycle, SATO generates regional employment and enables autonomous, continuous improvements in sanitation conditions.
One such job-creation initiative is the training of workers who install SATO units and build toilet cubicles. Through training programs offered in collaboration with NGOs, SATO supports skill acquisition primarily among women and young people. Reports in India showed a 200% increase in the earnings of women who received our training.
At the same time, we are working to educate communities about the importance of sanitary toilet use. Unless they are used, installed toilets do not contribute to solving sanitation issues. That is why we work with UNICEF and NGOs to promote understanding of the importance of sanitation and toilet use.
Solving sanitation issues is not something that the LIXIL Group alone can achieve. Our initiatives rely on collaborative partnerships that utilize the strengths of various specialist organizations, NGOs and business partners.
LIXIL Corporation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) formed the Make a Splash! Toilets for All global partnership to improve sanitation for children around the world. We launched the initiative in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania to establish markets for hygiene-related goods and ensure the availability of affordable products for people lacking toilets. We are working to expand this market-driven program.
To succeed as a social business, we depend on collaborations with NGOs already established in the community and engaged in local sanitation issues. LIXIL works with experienced NGOs such as BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) in Bangladesh and PSI (Population Services International) in Kenya to build the value chains that enable SATO installation, lobby governments to promote sanitation measures, and receive feedback on product development.
The LIXIL Group 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. We assist with the running of the organization, mentor entrepreneurs who tackle sanitation problems, and engage in advocacy through the Toilet Board Coalition.
In December 2018, LIXIL Corporation received the Deputy-Chief’s Award, given by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the 2nd Japan SDGs Award. The LIXIL Group’s efforts to tackle sanitation issues, including the development of SATO products, 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.
2nd Japan SDGs Award Ceremony