Updated on January 16, 2024


Created on September 3, 2020


Upcoming Update

The HandyPod is a wastewater treatment system designed for use in floating dwellings and schools.

Developed By
  1. Wetlands Work
Content Partners


Product Description

The HandyPod is a wastewater treatment system for floating communities. It is inserted under a floating house’s toilet, capturing the raw sewage and treating it within the pod using microbial biofilm processes.

The latest design is ‘amphibious’ to cope with the dry conditions, rather than being targeted for dwellings expected to be permanently afloat. It incorporates a treatment system, which can float with the house, or work equally well on land as required.

The cost per unit is dependent on the system installed to accommodate the household size. Interview with Representative July 2020

This product is a unique solution to floating households and communities. The alternative option is open defecation in rivers and lakes.  Interview with Representative July 2020

Target SDGs

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Market Suggested Retail Price


Target Users (Target Impact Group)


Distributors / Implementing Organizations

Wetlands Work! partners with local businesses to build HandyPods for households and communities. Interview with Representative July 2020

Manufacturing/Building Method

Wetlands Work! trains local businesses and entrepreneurs to build the product using local and sourced materials.  Interview with Representative July 2020

Intellectural Property Type

Trade Secret

User Provision Model

This product is distributed by local businesses that have been trained by Wetlands Work!. Interview with Representative July 2020

Distributions to Date Status

The approximate number of Handypods distributed are as follows: 20 units installed in Cambodian schools, 25 units installed in Cambodian lake villages, and 120 units installed in Myanmar.  Interview with Representative July 2020

Flow rate (L/min)

~0.01-0.02 L/min (dependent on no. of persons per household and amount of pour-flush)

Power Supply Type

No power required

Technology type

Staged wastewater treatment using microbial biofilm processes

BOD Removal Efficiency

Not measured

COD removal efficiency

Not measured

NH4-N Removal Efficiency

Not measured

TSS removal efficiency

Not measured

Total Phosphorus Removal Efficiency

Not measured

Fecal Coliform Removal Efficiency


Design Specifications

The HandyPod treatment system is connected to the household or community facility's toilet system to capture the raw sewage and treat it within the pod using microbial biofilm processes. The treated water is then discharged back into the surrounding natural environment. In principle, the HandyPod is composed of two stages of treatment sized for the number of people using the latrine. 1st Stage: The product receives waste and pour-flush water from the latrine pan. This stage provides several days of septic containment which then, with additional pour-flush usages, flows passively by gravity into a second three-day containment stage of treatment. 2nd Stage: The 2nd container contains naturally occurring microbes that respond to the waste as food, including significant predation on the pathogens. The container's extensive internal surface area of microbial biofilm which absorbs the chemicals and particulates that sustain the metabolism and ecology of the microbes. The microbial biofilm activity provides a treated effluent that results in ‘safe ambient water’ next to the discharge pipe.

Product Schematics

Technical Support

Wetlands Work! is available to provide technical support to the social enterprise and users.

Replacement Components

Replaceable components can be provided by local businesses trained by Wetlands Work!.


Approximately 5 years Correspondence with designer

Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters

The specified performance targets include:

  • Minimal maintenance
  • Excellent water treatment
  • Easy assembly
  • Long-life use
  • Stability in storm events
  • No odor
  • No chemical or electrical inputs

Vetted Performance Status

An early prototype of the HandyPod was comprised of water hyacinths. In the pilot project conducted by Engineers Without Borders with 18 HandyPods tested, water hyacinth was found to be difficult to maintain and was replaced with polystyrene filters. Regular testing was undertaken to ensure that the water quality met Cambodian standards, with the vast majority of HandyPod systems meeting the standard for lakes and reservoirs.  Furthermore, surveys of students in schools indicated positive responses associated with the use of toilets connected to the HandyPods.


There are some potential hazards related to the installation and/or maintenance of the product onto the household or school. To minimize risk, these tasks should be conducted by local businesses trained by Wetlands Work!. Interview with Representative July 2020

Complementary Technical Systems


Academic Research and References


Compliance with regulations

The HandyPod discharge meets Cambodian water quality standards for recreational waters. Correspondence with designer

Evaluation methods

The manufacturer assesses the product by testing the effluent quality of 28-100 cfu/100 ml in a one-half cubic meter volume of the ambient water.

Other Information

Wetlands Work! has developed several strategies to introduce the HandyPod to under-developed communities. This includes engaging the village’s floating schools – both teachers and students, beginning with the installation of HandyPod sanitation and the provision of handwashing facilities, then teacher hygiene training. Subsequently, local entrepreneurs are trained to make and market it, and a ‘sanitation raffle’ event is held where 7% of the households win a HandyPod by a lucky draw. Wetlands Works! found that the described strategy successfully creates demand for sanitation within the community. Interview with Representative July 2020 The initial village-wide program was supported by Conservation International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Exploration Challenges Program for Water and Sanitation. The pilot scale-up of the Pod was trialed in 10 floating villages, supported by the Canada Grand Challenges Program for Stars in Global Health. A report was published by Engineers Without Borders Australia and Engineers Without Borders New Zealand. The pilot project was conducted by Engineers Without Borders.

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