User-centered guidance for engineering and design of decentralized sanitation technologies

By Laura T. R. Morrison, Anushah Hossain, Myles Elledge, Brian Stoner, Jeffrey Piascik

Technological innovations in sanitation are poised to address the great need for sanitation improvements in low-income countries. Worldwide, more than 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities. Innovative waste treatment and sanitation technologies aim to incorporate user-centered findings into technology engineering and design. Without a focus on users, even the most innovative technology solutions can encounter significant barriers to adoption. Drawing on a household survey conducted in urban slum communities of Ahmedabad, India, this research brief identifies toilet and sanitation preferences, amenities, and attributes that might promote adoption of improved sanitation technologies among potential user populations. This work uses supplemental insights gained from focus groups and findings from the literature. Based on our research, we offer specific guidance for engineering and design of sanitation products and technologies.


Morrison, L. T. R., Hossain, A., Elledge, M., Stoner, B., & Piascik, J. (2018). User-centered guidance for engineering and design of decentralized sanitation technologies. (RTI Press Publication No. RB-0017-1806). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Laura T. R. MorrisonLaura Morrison, MPP, is a research economist in RTI International’s Center for Environmental, Technology, and Energy Economics.

Anushah HossainAnushah Hossain, BA, is a graduate student in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California–Berkeley.

Myles ElledgeMyles Elledge, MPIA (Master of Public and International Affairs), was a senior director in RTI’s Center for Engineered Systems at the time of writing. He is now executive director of Health & Environment at Biomass Controls.

Brian StonerBrian Stoner, PhD, is a research professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Duke University.

Jeffrey PiascikJeff Piascik, PhD, is president at Biomass Controls.

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