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LIXIL introduces the SATO Tap, a novel handwashing station that aims to improve hygiene for millions in developing economies

LIXIL committing US$1m to support accelerated rollout to fight COVID-19

Washing your hands thoroughly with soap reduces the spread of disease and can help prevent COVID-19 infection. But for approximately 3 billion people around the world, this step is out of reach. According to UNICEF, 40% of the world’s population does not have access to basic handwashing facilities at home. In the world’s least developed economies, it is as high as 75% of the population. The COVID-19 situation is highlighting vast inequities in access to water, sanitation, and hygiene.

To help protect these communities, LIXIL Group Corporation (“LIXIL”), maker of pioneering water and housing products, announced today the introduction of a new off-grid handwashing solution through its SATO brand. Called the SATO Tap, the new product is developed to be affordable and attractive for low-income households and designed to allow use anywhere in the home, even without access to a supply of running water.

In light of the global spread of COVID-19, LIXIL’s goal is to provide a rapid response to the populations in need of improved hygiene, while also supporting longer-term solutions for handwashing behavior change. LIXIL will commit to a total of one million dollars to support immediate and sustained hand-hygiene practices through this innovation. As part of accelerating product roll-out, it also plans to match the commitments of development partners and others, which could impact up to 5 million people with improved handwashing.

Kinya Seto, CEO of LIXIL, said, “LIXIL is a purpose-driven company that is committed to contributing to society through its business. COVID-19 has left many of the world’s most underserved communities exposed. Two out of five people in the world do not have even basic handwashing facilities in their homes at a time when they are needed the most. SATO Tap applies strong design and engineering expertise. Combined with LIXIL’s corporate backing, we will accelerate rollout and access to those who need this product most. We’re confident that this new product can contribute to expanding access to handwashing and improved hygiene for many more. I would like to thank UNICEF and our partners for working with us to ensure we reach those most in need and help to save lives. We welcome others to join us so we leave no one behind.”

LIXIL sought technical inputs from its partners, including UNICEF, on the design of the SATO tap to ensure it addresses the needs of targeted communities The SATO Tap consists of a plastic base with a nozzle that can be fitted with widely available plastic bottles. The design is based on unique insights from consumers and stakeholders and analysis of existing solutions for the emerging markets. It is compact and can be used both within the home and as a handwashing station at public facilities. The unique tap design ensures low contact, thereby reducing the spread of disease, while the trickle action minimizes water use, meaning fewer refills, but maintaining solid flow.

In addition to providing an affordable handwashing facility to disadvantaged households through the SATO Tap, LIXIL’s existing partnership with UNICEF will also expand activities in handwashing and sanitation in response to COVID-19. These activities range from collection of commercial and behavioral insights to strengthen behavior change, joint advocacy to promote hygiene programming and maximizing existing public and private sector networks and supply chains to expand access to handwashing.

“We know that one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of diseases is to wash your hands. But for the poorest and most vulnerable children and families, the immediate risk of COVID-19 is compounded by a lack of basic handwashing facilities,” said Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF, Associate Director, WASH. “This global pandemic has made it more essential than ever to work closely with governments and private sector partners, like LIXIL, to ensure handwashing is possible for all.

Daigo Ishiyama, Chief Technology and Marketing Officer, SATO, said, “Handwashing with soap is one of the cheapest, most effective ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and other infectious diseases, yet for many people in the world it is still a privilege. At SATO, we began to think about how we could innovate within the COVID-19 constraints faced in these communities. We know many of these households don’t have running water but they do have access to a water source and to plastic bottles. Our solution had to be affordable and reliable, easy to produce and transport, effortless for children to use, as well as water-saving to minimize the frequency of the refill. This is why the SATO Tap design relies only on the characteristics of water and gravity to create a simple on-and-off mechanism that also mitigates the risk of contamination through contact.”

To date, LIXIL’s SATO social business has developed affordable sanitation solutions including toilets and toilet system components. The SATO Tap is its first hand-hygiene solution, based on the same consumer-centric design principles of its sanitation solution, a key approach to ensure sustainability and commercial viability.

The first SATO Taps will be manufactured in India, and will be available for partners in September 2020, with ramp up of production and retail availability through early 2021. LIXIL is also working to establish other licensing partners to expand to other markets including Africa. The launch of the SATO Tap is consistent with LIXIL’s ongoing work on SDG6 that contributes to improved sanitation and hygiene, having already reached over 18 million people in 38 countries with improved sanitation through SATO products.