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 1.7 billion people, or about one-fifth of the global population, live without access to safe sanitation.*1 Among them, approximately 494 million people still regularly defecate in the open. These figures come with a devastating human cost: Each day, over 700 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.
About 2.3 billion people, or one in three of the world’s population, lack basic handwashing facilities at home. This lack of handwashing facilities increases the risk of a more rampant spread of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.
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.*2 Among the United Nations (UN) 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, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), private companies, and various other sectors in tackling sanitation issues.
*1 As defined in the Joint Monitoring Programme, "Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, 2000-2020" (sum of Open defecation, Unimproved and Limited)
*2 According to “The True Cost of Poor Sanitation,” a 2016 survey conducted by Oxford Economics, international NGO WaterAid, and LIXIL.
Slum in Mumbai
LIXIL continues to strive toward the target of improving the sanitary environments of 100 million people, but we have pushed out our target date from 2020 to 2025. We hope that accelerating cooperation with various partners to help expand our business will also help improve people’s sanitary environments and quality of life.
Sanitation problems vary by region, depending on the availability of water resources, the level of urbanization, and access to toilet facilities. LIXIL’s SATO Business division is the primary driver of R&D and business operations tailored to the characteristics and needs of emerging markets, including lack of infrastructure, lower income levels, and environmental restrictions, such as water scarcity.
SATO Toilet Solutions are a range of simple, aspirational yet affordable products intended for use in emerging countries. Flushing requires less than one liter of water, using a counterweight 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 in 2013.
SATO Toilet Solutions are currently manufactured in six countries of Asia and Africa. Including donations, over 5.1 million units have been distributed to 41 countries, contributing to better sanitation for an estimated 25 million people (as of July, 2021).
Our SATO business is collaborating with local manufacturers and NGOs to establish regional production and sales systems. By driving the make-sell-use cycle, we seek to generate regional employment and enable autonomous, continuous improvements and create a local sanitation economy.
One such job-creation initiative is the training of masons who install SATO toilets. To date, more than 19,000 people, including women and youth, in India, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, and other countries have participated in free training programs designed in conjunction with NGOs and international organizations. The training programs have generated improvements in toilet installations and income, with reported 200% increases in income for some women who underwent the training in India, and the nurturing of skilled masons in Uganda who sold and installed more than 3,000 SATO toilets over a period of five years.
At the same time, we are working to drive consumer’s awareness on the importance of toilet use as part of our efforts to help solve sanitation issues because we believe simply installing toilets is not enough. That is why we work with UNICEF and NGOs to promote understanding of the importance of sanitation and toilet use.
A training session in Uganda
We developed SATO Tap in 2020 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a handwashing solution, SATO Tap uses water in a plastic bottle and gravity to release a minimal, frugal but stable water flow.
SATO Tap was conceived by an employee who has long been involved in the development of SATO Toilet Solutions. He came up with the idea when he became infected with COVID-19 and was being treated for the disease. In emerging markets, where water and soap were not readily available and where there were no handwashing facilities or effective handwashing habits, there was an urgent need to develop solutions to address these problems. 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 works with plastic bottles of various shapes and sizes and is manufactured from two simple plastic parts to keep costs and prices low. To quickly deliver the product to areas with the most urgent need, we started production in India, where we already had a network of partners in the SATO business and were able to operate a manufacturing system during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as in Tanzania.
SATO Tap handwashing station using a plastic bottle
In FYE2021, we used SATO Tap to raise awareness of the importance of hygienic practices in various regions. In India, we joined forces with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on an awareness-building campaign to promote hygienic practices, conveying the importance of handwashing in rural areas, schools, and hospitals through animation-enhanced lectures and hands-on SATO Tap experience sessions.
We conducted user testing in four African regions and are looking to develop products that satisfy local needs, based on users’ feedback. By using SATO Tap to encourage frequent handwashing even in areas with insufficient handwashing facilities and water supply, we hope to gradually instill better practices that will ultimately help prevent the spread of infectious diseases and improve hygiene.
Awareness-building activities in India (photo credit: JICA)
Handwashing practice using the SATO Tap stations (photo credit: JICA)
Solving sanitation issues is not something that LIXIL can achieve alone. Our initiatives rely on collaborative partnerships that utilize the strengths of various specialist organizations, NGOs, and business partners.
In 2018, LIXIL and UNICEF formed the MAKE A SPLASH! 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.
In Tanzania, we have been cooperating on a government-driven campaign to ensure access to toilets for all of the nation’s citizens by 2025. In India, we installed SATO toilets as part of UNICEF’s #FlushTheVirus campaign to support healthcare professionals seeking to treat COVID-19. We also conducted SATO Tap demonstration testing together with UNICEF in four other African regions, and are now seeking to develop products that better suit local needs.
MAKE A SPLASH! ＞
In October 2020, LIXIL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to collaborate on solving hygiene and sanitation issues in emerging countries. The MoU covers the planned deployment of SATO toilets and SATO Tap handwashing stations in Asia and Africa.
LIXIL signed an MoU with JICA, the incorporated administrative agency that coordinates official development assistance for the Government of Japan, to cooperate on the goals of improving sanitary environments and securing safe water in emerging countries. This is the first cooperative endeavor between a private company and JICA in this field, and we intend to accelerate progress by leveraging our mutual strengths. In 2020, we worked together in India to raise awareness of hygienic practices such as handwashing.
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.
The list of JICA-SDGs partners (Japanese Only / A new page will open) ＞
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, lobby governments to promote sanitation measures, and 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. 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 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.
2nd Japan SDGs Award Ceremony