Toilet Production in Africa, Building Local Capacity


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  • I am a ceramic industrial designer focused on environmental health and development. Ceramics is ideally suited to addressing the urgent needs of low-income communities and countries. Those embracing ceramic developments will industrialize, gaining resilience and self-sufficiency.
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Toilet Production in Africa, Building Local Capacity

Toilet Production in Africa, Building Local Capacity

Africa Prosperity Inc.,

There should be no need to import toilets of the highest quality to Africa, starting with small-scale production. Given trainings, incomparable toilets can be produced almost anywhere, in close proximity to the need. There is a problem, however, that African innovators at small-scale lack the support for the development of these.

Here is a link to an article: *How Traditional Philanthropy?s Obsession With Scale Too Often Excludes African Innovators*. An outcome of the obsession with large-scale implementation is that those in need get interventions that are drop shipped in. They are not trained in production of these. Consequently, their communities will continue to be dependent.

A case in point is for the simple production of incomparable sanitary toilets at the Gatagara Stoneware Pottery, located in rural Rwanda. The glassy surface of such ceramic toilets is incomparable for good hygiene. The Gatagara Pottery is remarkable not only in the high quality of the dinnerware and decorative items that the potters produce. Incredibly, the potters are self-sufficient in materials and most of their tools.

There is a common notion that a reason for the lack of industrial development in Africa is the lack of refractories, the high temperature components of kilns and furnaces. Incredibly, the Gatagara potters produce their own refractory brick and ?kiln furniture.? Were this pottery to be replicated as a model for Africa, there should be no need to import toilets of the highest quality. The high temperature capacity of the potters? kilns is what is required at the starting point of industrial development.

There is a similar model in Nigeria, where there are many ceramists, though they fire their ware in expensive electric kilns. These potters too could do the simple production of incomparable, sanitary toilets. One might ask about how to break into the market for these toilets. An answer should be that it should first be important to show the capacity of production. Fortunately, production of incomparable toilets is simple, once there is the capacity of stoneware potteries.

Sub-Saharan Africa could be industrialized, starting with the training of potters and others, in the use of their abundant raw materials. There must, however, be support for small-scale projects of all kinds. Then these can grow to large-scale, with the new capacity of potters and others. How else will there be *real *sustainability and not continued dependence? How about obsessing on the need for small-scale production?

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All the best, Reid
Anthony Reid Harvey, ceramic industrial designer
Africa Prosperity Inc.
Niagara Falls, NY USA
Here is a video presentation that gives an overview of ceramic WASH and development interventions:
Harvey, Anthony Reid (2021): Sanitary stoneware toilets: production closer to the need. Loughborough University. Conference contribution.

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