Healthy Cities


Change:Water Labs—iThrone

Safer, cost-effective sanitation for informal urban communities

Team Lead

Diana Yousef

Solution Pitch

The Problem

Globally, 2 billion people lack access to safe, clean toilets because their homes have no sewage plumbing. Instead, they must use shared facilities—exposing them to disease, violence, and sexual assault—or defecate openly. Such poor sanitation perpetuates poor health, poverty, and pollution, even in wealthy countries like the United States.

The Solution

Change:Water Labs’ iThrone Evaporative Toilet brings an inexpensive, sanitary toilet into slums, transitional housing, and other under-resourced informal homes. The compact, waterless toilet can be installed anywhere, regardless of infrastructure. 

A low-cost evaporative membrane dehydrates human waste—extracting and reclaiming more than 90 percent of it as pure water—using pouches that need emptying just once a month. Its bio-battery converts urine into electricity that powers ventilation, dispelling gasses and odors. The device requires little maintenance, which keeps costs low, and provides consumers with immediate access to a clean, safe, and private toilet.

Market Opportunity

The global market for portable toilets is $18.2 billion per year with growth expected to surpass $24.7 billion by 2027. Specifically, the annual market value for new, pro-poor sanitation technologies is expected to exceed $6 billion by 2030. iThone’s operational costs are only 50 percent of those of temporary toilets.

Partnership Goals

Change:Water Labs currently seeks:

  • Consultation from manufacturing and distribution partners to refine multi-channel go-to-market strategy;
  • Strategic investors to finance the scale-up of unit assembly; and
  • Technical assistance on material and scientific development, including extrusion, fabrication, scale-up, superhydrophobic surfaces, and green materials. 

Organization Highlights

Some of Change:Water Labs’ notable achievements include:

  • Letters of intent from three construction contractors for 6,000+ toilets post-pilot;
  • Media coverage in Forbes, Business Insider, and The Daily Beast; and
  • Funding relationships with US, UK, and Dutch governments.

Existing Partnerships

Change:Water Labs currently partners with:

  • MIT D-Lab to access prototyping space and equipment;
  • Flexcon, a contract manufacturer of extruded specialty film materials;
  • Humanitarian Grand Challenges (administered by Grand Challenges Canada and funded by DFID-UK), which sponsors a pilot;
  • Israeli Medicine on the Equator and Door-to-Door, which are field partners for pilot implementation at the Main Hospital in the Kiboga District of Uganda; and
  • SDG Impact Accelerator partners, including the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the Gates Foundation, UNDP, FAO, WFP, and two Turkish conglomerates, which provide funding to deploy and pilot toilets in refugee-hosting communities.


Poor sanitation perpetuates poor health, poverty, and pollution—related to 80 percent of all infectious diseases and 4 percent of all deaths.

Solver Team

Organization Type:
For Profit

Cambridge, MA, USA


Working in:



Solution Team:

  • Diana Yousef Founder and CEO, change:WATER Labs


Sanitation for Informal Communities

Solver Change:Water Labs—iThrone received the $25,000 Innospark Ventures Prize from Member Innospark Ventures in 2019 to provide safe, cost-effective sanitation for informal urban communities.


Sanitation for Informal Communities

Solver Change:Water Labs—iThrone, which provides safe, cost-effective sanitation for informal urban communities, received a $10,000 grant from Solve in 2019 for being selected as a Healthy Cities Solver.

to Top