• purposelypodcast

David Crosweller joins Purposely Podcast to share his founder story creating Sanitation First

Updated: Nov 24, 2020


Sanitation First provide ecosan toilets to people in India and Africa. Incredibly they have helped to transform the lives of 350,000 people since their launch in 1997. Their slogan is to ‘tackle poverty one toilet at a time’.


David had been running a marketing agency in the UK which collapsed in the 1990 economic crash. This led him to re-focus his career deciding to help others and live a life of purpose. David started Sanitation First with his friend Andy Barr after a life changing visit to Africa where he saw the devastating effects of disease-ridden water and lack of proper sanitation. David talks about crying for an hour in a hotel room following a visit to a hospital where a third of patients had died from diseases directly related to dirty water. They started to construct eco-toilets in a country that had no toilets for millions of people.


In 2005 they developed the first composting toilet which was built in an Indian school, a unit that is still in use to this day. This school, like so many others, now has long-term sustainable sanitation and the impact, especially for girls, is enormous. There has been a 17.5% increase in the number of girls enrolling with almost 100% finishing senior school and approximately half going on to further education. A toilet has a big impact.