Updated Mar 05, 2020

SATO Pans and Stools

SATO develops innovative, affordable, and easy-to-install toilet systems to local communities around the world to address the global sanitation crisis.


Erin Mccusker

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Stage 4: Transition to Scale

The SATO products first launched in 2013 and in 2019, reached a total of 2.5 million units shipped. SATO is continuing to evaluate new products to best serve those in need of improved sanitation, and expanding reach to more markets.

Focus Areas:

Sanitation and Human Centered Design

Sanitation and Human Centered DesignSEE LESS

Implemented In:

Nigeria, Kenya, India and 5 MoreSEE ALL

Nigeria, Kenya, India, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Uganda and TanzaniaSEE LESS

Lives Impacted to Date
Key Partner
Countries Implemented In
Funds Raised to Date
Verified Funding


Over 2 billion people, or one in four people globally, still lack access to safe, basic sanitation. People in countless communities, who rely on open pit latrines or empty fields to relieve themselves, are exposed to infectious diseases, insects, and terrible odors every day. Lack of toilets leads to a staggering 673 million people worldwide to relieve themselves outside (“open defecation”). 800 children under 5 years of age die every day from diarrheal diseases arising from poor sanitation.



SATO aims to solve these problems by providing affordable and easy-to-install toilet systems to local communities around the world. These products are safe for children and eliminate many of the causes of preventable diseases. The ground-breaking product line has won a number of prestigious awards, including the Red Dot Design Award, the Good Design Award, and the Deputy-Chief’s Award from the Japan SDG Awards.

Target Beneficiaries

SATO toilets and pans are targeting households in communities that currently practice open defecation and/or lack access to improved sanitation. The majority of these communities are making less than $5 a day. Girls are particularly affected by poor sanitation or poor sanitation facilities. An initial analysis of SATO consumers suggests that 60% of end users are under the age of 14 years old, indicative of the large youth populations in Africa and Southeast Asia where SATO focuses.

Innovation Description

The signature SATO toilet is a blue plastic toilet pan placed directly over a single pit and first launched in Bangladesh in 2013. SATO toilet pans feature an automatically-closing trap door that blocks odors and insects. A small amount of water (0.2 to 1 liter) opens the trap door to eliminate waste, which shuts itself tightly after use. The SATO pan was evolved to include a raised stool, providing the same benefits of the SATO pan product, but with a higher seat for easier use by the elderly, or for those use to a "pedestal" style toilet over a squat pan. By adapting and designing for the target markets, SATO aims to increase the uptake of the sanitation products and ensure consistent use. SATO is a self-sustaining social business that establishes a local Make, Sell, Use cycle in the community—creating jobs and allowing local manufacturers and stakeholders to continue the business independently. This allows a country to continuously improve its own sanitation over time. SATO uses a range of business models that are adapted to each market, including license manufacturing where we partner with strong manufacturers and distributors, and contract manufacturing where SATO actively identifies the distributors and retails to reach end consumers, among others. In addition, SATO invests in training of masons and plumbers to build capacity in the local markets and increase awareness of the benefits of improved sanitation.

Competitive Advantage

Alternatives to the SATO pans and stools range from nothing (leaving an open hole in the ground, or open defection) or are ceramic products that are heavy (hard to transport), breakable, not as long-lasting due to quality of glazing available in the target markets, or too expensive. In addition, the toilets using these methods smell poorly and can attract flies, snakes, etc - not only creating an unhygienic environment, but also discouraging the use of the toilets due to poor experience. SATO toilet pans and stools are a light, durable polypropelene alternative user interface for pit latrines. They are easy to transport, and affordable (estimated half the cost of a ceramic pan in select markets). SATO toilets save ~80% water per flush by using less than 500ml of water, and the polished surface is easy to clean. The narrow opening for the trap door reduces smell and flies, and also increases the safety for children from falling into a pit latrine, or for exposure to animals and matter.

Planned Goals and Milestones

As of March 2019, SATO toilet pans and stools have been installed in 27 countries, including: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zambia
Projected Cumulative Lives Impacted12,500,000


Jul 2019
Key Partnership
Date Unknown
New Country Implemented In
Date Unknown
New Country Implemented In
Date Unknown
New Country Implemented In

Supporting Materials