Aidex Voices

With over 20 years of experience in timber manufacturing and off-grid technology, Dunster House Ltd has designed and developed many potential solutions for humanitarian aid. The company is now an Oxfam supplier and is playing a key part in the Pee Power Project.

Around the world, almost two and a half billion people lack access to basic sanitation, like toilets and latrines. Lack of sanitation is a primary cause for water pollution – more than 80% of human waste water is discharged into rivers and oceans without any treatment, meaning that 1.8 billion people worldwide drink from contaminated sources. This facilitates the spread of water-borne diseases and causes thousands of deaths every day – most of which are preventable.

The devastating effects of inadequate sanitation are not to be underestimated. As well as the impact on public health, poor sanitation also has far-reaching societal impacts, particularly for women and girls. A third of women worldwide have nowhere safe to go to the toilet and often have to practice open defecation, meaning they risk shame, harassment and even sexual assault every day. When combined with the taboos surrounding menstruation, this lack of privacy is actually preventing girls from completing their education: many girls drop out of school or stop attending classes when they reach puberty, as they do not have separate, lockable toilets or adequate washing facilities.

To improve the lives of those living in these conditions, Dunster House is playing its part in working towards the sixth Sustainable Development Goal of access to water and sanitation for all by 2030. 

Dunster House began In 1994 as a small, family-owned business supplying PVC windows and doors to homes across the UK. 20 years on, after meeting Oxfam at AidEx in Brussels, the company sent its first order of raised latrines and squatting plates to provide sanitation to people displaced by conflict in South Sudan. Today, the company continues to expand its range of humanitarian products, using its expertise in the design and manufacture of timber garden buildings to provide innovative, affordable sanitation solutions that could save millions of lives. 

Through further collaborations with UNICEF and Medair, Dunster House has also been able to provide emergency sanitation solutions to people in Chad, Nigeria and the Central African Republic. So far, they have sent raised latrines, latrine superstructures and their new Dunster Slab squatting plate to communities in need. Their aim is to supply a varied range of products so that both urban and rural communities can benefit – demonstrating how, with the right will, even a family business can make a global impact.