Night Loo is a reusable personal urinal designed for women and girls in refugee camps to use at night when the threat of rape makes going to the communal latrines too dangerous. Made of injection molded silicone, the product is designed for squatting over; the petal-like flaps create a splash guard when open and snap closed to cover the contents after use. After urinating and rinsing herself, the user tosses in a small pre-portioned packet of super-absorbent polymer encased in dissolving PVA film, which absorbs the liquid and accompanying odor in seconds, preserving the comfort of all inhabitants within her shelter. In the morning, when it is safer to go to the latrines, she can carry the Night Loo to pour out the powder into the latrines, and unfold the urinal flat to clean it.
Night Loo allows women and girls to attend to essential biological functions within the safety and comfort of their shelter at night. The product is compact, simple to use, and safe to keep inside the living quarters. The dissolving packet of super-absorbent polymer quickly turns liquid waste into an odorless powder and makes emptying and cleaning relatively easy.
The project brief was to design products for persons displaced by conditions such as conflict and natural disaster. The problem I chose to address was rape of women and girls in refugee camps, specifically at communal latrine facilities. The root causes of sexual and gender-based violence – including gender inequality and degradation of social structures – are not simple to solve, yet the assignment was to design a small product. After considering possible design directions aimed at making the journey to the latrines at night safer, it became clear that a solution which avoided the dangerous trip altogether would be best. The solution needed to be low-cost, easily shipped in quantity for wide distribution, easy to understand and use, and, above all, preserve the health and dignity of the women and girls who would use it.
Night Loo offers a feasible design solution to help women and girls avoid:
a) rape at communal latrines, b) health problems such as urinary tract infections as a result of avoiding communal latrines, and c) the indignity of having to choose between these possible outcomes on a nightly basis.
The World Health Organization has recognized sexual violence as a major public health problem and violation of women's human rights, as well as the fact that situations of conflict, post-conflict and displacement may exacerbate existing violence and present additional forms of violence against women. Despite these realities, few designs attempt to address these problems.
Night Loo allows women and girls to attend to basic biological functions within the safety and comfort of their own shelter at night. The product is compact, simple to use, and safe to keep inside the living quarters. The dissolving packet of super-absorbent polymer turns liquid waste into an odorless powder in less than one minute and makes emptying and cleaning relatively easy for these users, who do not need any additional difficulties in their day-to-day existence.
Night Loo provides refugee serving agencies such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) a way to offer additional measures of safety and sanitation to the most vulnerable residents of refugee camps with a low-cost product that ships flat for wide distribution. Refugee agencies are challenged to ensure safety within refugee camps, and this product allows a measure of increased safety and comfort to those in greatest need.
Night Loo benefits the greater good by offering women and girls living in refugee camps a safe way to attend to their biological needs while also avoiding the threat of sexual assault; reducing occurrences of rape and other forms of sexual violence, preserving the health and dignity of women and girls living in challenging circumstances, and affirming the human rights of women and girls.