Isabel Medem, x-runner’s CEO - © Ernesto Benavides

Toilets for all!

Posted on 24 June 2015.

X-runner is installing dry toilets in Lima’s slums and improving the lives, health and environment of people without access to improved sanitation.

It (almost) never rains in Lima. The Peruvian capital, one of the driest in the world, suffers from a severe water shortage, which particularly affects the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Two million people living on the barren hills of Lima’s slums are not connected to a water supply and don’t have basic sanitation.

Poor people in Lima don’t have toilets, just rudimentary latrines - holes which are dug and then sealed when they are full. There are obvious health risks: spread of diseases, contamination of groundwater, etc.

Led by Jessica Altenburger and Isabel Medem, the company x-runner has developed an alternative, reliable, sustainable and accessible sanitation system that meets these people’s needs. Dry toilets with no water required and which are odorless and easy to install anywhere in the house. These toilets, used already in many parts of the world, separate urine from the feces, which are stored in a plastic bucket lined with a compostable bag. Once a week, a truck comes to collect the bags full of feces and take them to a processing center. The human waste is composted, which over a period of two months eliminates any pathogens and produces soil, which is rich in nutrients. To get one of these toilets and receive the weekly collection service, the people of Lima pay about €10 a month.


In 2012, Altenburger, Medem and their team conducted a pilot program in a shantytown south of Lima. 93% of users said the dry toilets would improve their comfort and quality of life. This year the company hopes to equip 550 homes in Villa El Salvador and San Juan de Miraflores, two metropolitan districts in the province of Lima not connected to the sewerage system.