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LOTA+| Locally Optimized Toilet for All

LOTA+ is solving the problem of poor sanitation access for the BoP community by innovative toilet products based on the principles of circularity, resource recovery and frugal design thinking.

  • LOTA+ product with 3 key components.

  • LOTA+ is fostering healthy and happy communities. The video covers this theme broadly.

    LOTA+ is fostering healthy and happy communities. The video covers this theme broadly.

  • Axonometric exploded view of entire system which is low cost, time efficient and hassle free.

  • Different typologies of upper shelter and handwash station.

  • Advance sewage mechanism.

  • Initial conceptualisation and prototype development.

What it does

LOTA+ is fostering happy communities by improving access to affordable sustainable sanitation solutions. We impact the environment by upcycling waste for constructing toilets, reducing freshwater use and recycling black-grey water for groundwater recharge.


Your inspiration

As environmental engineering and architecture graduates, the team discovered the huge sanitation gap while working in slums, peri-urban and rural communities in India. The unawareness about the open defecation chimera and its socio-economic effects on communities baffled us. Our piqued interest led to a detailed research study regarding the problem where we discovered the complex inter-related issues of public health, infrastructure and waste management. As designers we started product development based on understanding the user-pain points, existing inadequate centralized facilities and no access to finance for the BOP community.


How it works

LOTA+ system is a low cost, sustainable and complete off-grid solution consisting of three parts: the upper shelter, hand-wash station and an advanced sewage mechanism. The upper shelter’s time efficient ‘Do it yourself’ assembly aids the end user to finish installation of the toilet in about 3 hours using easily available basic tools. The designed hand-wash station is water efficient as optimum sized single storage unit is used for supplying water inside the toilet as well as hand washing purposes. The grey water released after hand-washing is reused for flushing function inside the system. The advanced sewage mechanism contains a twin-pit system with a filtration candle supplied by us. The devised system provides highly fertile manure which can be procured after every six months along with pathogen free water released into the ground recharging the underground water table.


Design process

Our team analyzed existing user behavior related to open defecation and water collection. Multiple prototypes were first ideated and designed virtually in the form of sketches and 3-d models to develop our first prototype for shelter. The prototypes were modified based on user feedback, further adapted to use a vernacular material palette relatable to people. A sense of ownership was observed in households that built their own toilets. Based on the theory of place attachment, the resultant DIY system could be assembled by the end user in around 3 hours using basic tools following audio/video instructions. The provision of standalone shelter would be insufficient in the reduction of problems. As people revert to open defecation due to the hassle involved in cleaning the leach pits, we designed a hassle free sewage cleaning mechanism. Moreover, the importance of water in toilets is a crucial factor for the people and COVID 19 pandemic has further highlighted the significance of hand-washing facilities. Our team clubbed these two factors together in a single design solution resolving the issue of lack of centralized water supply in households. Thus a compact non water intensive system was developed to inculcate hand-wash behavior from the start in children and adult alike.


How it is different

LOTA+ varies from other available market solutions through provision of a holistic, high-value product catering to various aspects of hygiene and health at a low cost. Our production process enables us a competitive advantage as our product typologies vary according to geographic and contextual conditions, thereby easily acceptable by locals. Salvaged materials are refurbished for the urban context and a standard toolkit is supplied to village communities to produce toilet panels on site made from waste materials, resulting in low embodied energy and waste reduction from landfills. The self-assembly of the system provides a sense of attachment to the people, thus being maintained well. Due to a detailed user behavior understanding, LOTA+ has eliminated the existing factors in design that force people to abandon the toilet facility. The entire system is off-grid and self-sufficient reducing dependency on centralized infrastructure.


Future plans

LOTA+ is currently working on obtaining environmental clearances for recycled water from the system. Post that the team will apply for patents for the sewage treatment mechanism and look for alternative sources of production like plastic injection moulds using reused plastic pellets. The upper shelter design remains open source and involves the community. The team is also working on fundraising and scaling up to cover households in urban slums and surrounding rural areas of Bhopal, India receiving support from a local NGO widely present. Simultaneously we are also ideating a decentralized community based human waste resource recovery model.


Awards

1. NUS Resilience and Growth Innovation Grant, 2020 2. Shortlisted as top 10 finalist for Sarpathi Sanitation Challenge, 2021


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