Water-efficient & accessible: a toilet designed by an OPD and a female entrepreneur

An accessible toilet prototype design

Sejong toilet prototype 4 - and final (Nusa Cendana University)


This Water, WASH & Climate story was authored by Novika Noerdiyanti, Plan International Indonesia, Ben V. Tarigan, Nusa Cendana University & Jeni Ngganggus, UKM Jensi-Female Entrepreneur


Drought is an increasingly common climate change impact in Indonesia. Each drought season, many people are unable to go to the toilet comfortably due to a lack of water and unhygienic conditions. This challenge is particularly felt by many pregnant women and people with a disability.


This is our story of creating an affordable, water-efficient toilet designed by people with a disability and women entrepreneurs in Indonesia as part of Plan International’s Water for Women Project, Wash and Beyond – Transforming lives in Eastern Indonesia      


Why was it created?

In 2021,over 85% of Indonesia's territory experienced a dry season (Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency, Indonesia). Climate change events like this impact people  differently, but women and people with disabilities are more vulnerable to negative experiences. During  dry seasons, people need to save water, including water for sanitation and hygiene. Squat toilets are much more water-efficient compared to western-style sitting toilets, which are more expensive, but they are not very comfortable or accessible for pregnant women and people with disabilities. Thus, it was necessary to think about the design of accessible, water-saving toilets as a response to dry climate change impacts.


An inclusive intervention

During 2020, Plan Indonesia and  local university, Nusa Cendana University, supported a Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) and a female latrine entrepreneur to develop an inclusive and climate adaptive toilet using  a human-centered design process.


The six-month process saw four revisions before the final product was developed. The toilet design incorporates inputs from people with disabilities, including hearing, vision and mobility impairments, who are members of two organisations, Pertuni in Manggarai District and Persani.

A human centred design workshop takes place in rural Indonesia

Human-centred design process with Nusa Cendana University and a female latrine entrepreneur (Nusa Cendana University / Ben Tarigan)


An innovative toilet is born    

There are several innovations in our product, including:

  • an adapted lower height to make it easier for people in a wheelchair to transfer from one to the other
  • a step for use by children
  • a narrow  width to accommodate children  
  • a wider toilet seat for sitting comfort
  • a toilet bowl shape that allows for circle like water movement to accelerate the flush and reduce water use
  • an opening atthe front to allow the Indonesian custom of manually flushing for better hygiene
  • and the toilet seat is built as one with the toilet to reduce production costs.
Inclusive toilet design prototypes

Sejong toilet prototypes 1-3 (Nusa Cendana University)


Strengths and Challenges

The product is called ‘Sejong Toilet.’ Sejong stems from Setengah Jongkok (in Bahasa),meaning ‘Half Squat’ or ‘Semi Squat’ toilet. Following several prototypes developed by the female latrine entrepreneur, tested by the DPO and evaluated by the university, the final product can reduce water use by 50% compared to the sitting toilet. The design creates circular water movement, like a tornado, which saves water when flushing and the water is directed at the dirt hole, so it does not spread the contents in the bowl.


The final design is cheap and easy to build, including local materials and without the need to engage large manufactures, making it more affordable. The final product is only 30% of the cost of the sitting toilet. During the COVID-19 pandemic, product sales and marketing delays created challenges for sanitation entrepreneurs, which are still being experienced  . The female sanitation entrepreneur who partnered on this design plans to undertake a product feasibility test to ensure that the quality of the final product is not inferior to the larger manufacturer products on the market as soon as possible.


What we learnt from the process     

The human-centered design process and collaboration with several important stakeholders allowed for the development of an innovative toilet design that is accessible and adaptive to climate change impacts, especially drought.     


Human-centered design is an interesting method and needs to be replicated in a wider context. Marginal groups in communities are among those most impacted by climate change and need our efforts to strengthen climate resilience the most. Learning what issues they face and what their needs are  actively involving them is one way to minimise the bigger impacts of climate change.



This story was first shared as part of the This is Water, WASH & Climate: Stories from Practice, on 22 June 2022 during the Water, WASH & Climate Virtual Symposium. It has since been edited with permission.


An inclusive community is a climate resilient community. In an uncertain and rapidly changing world, there is no greater priority than ensuring that water and WASH systems are future-proofed for climate resilience, social cohesion, accountability and wellbeing. Embedding the voice of women and marginalised people in water and WASH systems is one of the most effective pathways to strengthen equity and inclusion, so that the ‘invisible’ becomes visible, and valued. Valuing diversity, and diverse perspectives, strengthens prospects for a more climate resilient and socially cohesive future.

For more information about the session and Water & WASH Futures events visit https://washfutures.com/. Key Water and WASH Futures partners are the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the International WaterCentre, Water for Women, the Asian Development Bank and the Australian Water Partnership.

To learn more and continue the discussion on how to achieve SDG 6 in a changing climate, join us in Brisbane at the Water and WASH Futures Conference 13-17 February 2023.


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