While people across the world are being urged to wash their hands regularly for protection against the global Covid-19 pandemic, millions face the daily challenge of access to water and sanitation.
“With the spotlight on improved hygiene, which is 99% reliant on water, the conversation should not be just about providing access to water. It should include how those who do have access use it responsibly” says David van der Spuy, owner of GD Fittings.
Van der Spuy and his team have been pioneers in water-savings-plumbing products since 1986, and have developed several solutions to combat the wastage of water at domestic level.
“I grew up in a water-scarce country, and have seen how droughts and the lack of adequate infrastructure can have a devastating impact on our communities and economy” says Van der Spuy.
You can save water if you use the same water for more than one purpose.
It is this background that drives him and his business to innovate and develop water-savings solutions that are affordable, easy to install or retro-fit and, most importantly, easy to use.
In 2006 GD Fittings designed its Waterwise Basin – based on the insight that you can save water if you use the same water for more than one purpose.
“This is not a new insight; in fact in the last drought in Cape Town we saw millions of South Africans collecting their shower and basin water in buckets to use for the flushing of toilets. It shows that people are willing to make changes during times of crisis, even if it is inconvenient. However, many feel that maintaining this behaviour is not practical and as soon as restrictions lift, they go back to old habits,” says Van Der Spuy.
But it is not just behaviour that drives or influences water-savings and consumption. Toilet and sanitation technology has not evolved much since the invention of the water-based-flush toilet and if we change the technology, people will adopt new behaviour.
“The fact is that we should make it easy for people to save water. It should just be built into the technology and the behaviour change will follow. This is the principle that GD Fittings follows – we look at existing technology and how it is currently used, and then we try to re-engineer it to save or use water more economically,” explains Van der Spuy.
Save water and space
The Waterwise basin is designed with a two-fold purpose. Firstly, it provides a neat, compact hand washing facility. Secondly, it saves a significant amount of water by ensuring that the cistern remains empty after use. An empty cistern cannot leak.
It allows users to wash their hands with the water that is used to fill the cistern, and is fitted with a leak-proof water-on-demand mechanism. After washing your hands, the cistern automatically flushes and then remains empty. Watch how easy the basin is to use.
Van der Spuy says millions of toilets can easily be upgraded to combat water wastage and ensure access to safe sanitation and hand-washing facilities. The basin is robust enough for use in public facilities such as schools, shopping centres, universities and commuter nodes.
“The increased focus on hand hygiene during this crisis should not just create a temporary behaviour change. The fact is that we should make it easy for people to maintain good hygiene and water-savings habits on an ongoing basis. Our product is not a temporary fix, but rather a permanent solution to help save water and promote hygiene. If we design technology and products with this in mind, we will win two battles in one.”