South African Woman wins Prize for Water-Saving Toilet

Toilet bowl

I always wondered why the toilet design used today in almost all bathrooms around the world is 400 years old. So many things have gone through innovation, reinvention, re-design, etc, yet the toilet design has survived 400 years! In the end, I thought it was because the subject was not particularly attractive: I mean who wants to look into toilet bowls, or even think about it, or talk about it? Yuck…! Just do the business and be gone, right? Well, one young lady from South Africa came up with a toilet design which uses 400 milliliters (0.4 L – 0.11 gallons) instead of the usual 13 litres (13 L – 3.4 gallons) consumed in regular toilets. People, this is more than a 300% reduction in water… think about your water bills savings or drought areas! Please help me applaud the work of Monni Mokwena. Her invention is appropriately called the Swallowing Toilet. The excerpt below is from Briefly where the full article is found.

Just a note on July 30, 2019: Monni Mokwena emphasized in the comment section below that her design uses a flexible S-shape design which not only reduces water consumption, but also takes care of the smell: “My toilet have a flexible s- shape compared to the traditional toilet…So when it’s inoperative it has that S shape that help to prevent water for flowing and also to prevent the smell to come back into the bowl…


South Africa_Monni Mokwena
Monni Mokwena (Source: Sowetan Live)

Monni Mokwena is the epitome of black excellence. The 25-year-old designed a toilet that does not only save underprivileged people money, but it also preserves water. Mokwena pitched her idea at the Engen Pitch and Polish competition and she was crowed the regional winner.The young inventor was inspired by her upbringing in Bakenberg village in Mokopane, Limpopo. Mokwena was one among many living in rural areas who did not have the pleasure of flushing toilets. According to The Sowetan, Mokwena also saw her gogo spend a lot of money to pay someone to fetch water.

I am a rural girl. Toilets are a serious problems in our community. My grandmother still spends a substantial amount of money of her pension to pay people who get her water from far,” she said. 

She started doing research and found that the everyday toilet was invented over 400 years ago. gathered she came up with plans and her invention uses less than a litre of water.

I realised that the mountain of the s-shaped pipe at the back of the toilet is the one that makes the toilet to use a lot of water. This was created to prevent the smell from coming back to the house. We’ve cut that ‘mountain’,” Mokwena said.

Mokwena’s new “swallowing toilet” uses a flexible pipe instead of the s-shaped one and because it swallows the waste, the toilet only requires 400 millilitres of water – opposed to the 13 litres of water a normal toilet uses. Taking to social media, Mokwena gushed about the competition where she pitched her idea before walking away the winner.

Just imagine, a poor girl like me with my poor English, from the village pitching and competing with/to the most sophisticated people. And, I made to the top. Bafowethu – Let’s keep pushing but never forget to pray hey…. the competition is too much there,” she wrote on Facebook. 

9 thoughts on “South African Woman wins Prize for Water-Saving Toilet

  1. That was certainly a quirky, yet great story. Toilets aren’t something people think about all the time, but this was certainly eye-opening for me. Congrats to Monni for making a toilet that’s environmentally friendly and effective cost-effective. I hope she goes far with her patents and inventions!


  2. Radek

    hmmm, poor article – so did she actually reduce or eliminate the syphon -the smell-stopper- all together or how does her flexible pipe do that job? because if it doesn’t, her invention will never be globally as popular as the 400-year-old predecessor 🙂


    1. Radek, this is exactly as it was reported… you could watch the video… I asked myself the same question about the smell… but nobody talked about the smell, not even on BBC which also interviewed her. The emphasis has been on the reduction of water which beats the 400-year-old predecessor; in this drought, and climate change prone world, it is indeed an amazing feat worthy of a major award. I am sure you could write to her and find out.


    2. monni

      hi… My toilet have a flexible s- shape compared to the traditional toilet…So when it’s inoperative it has that S shape that help to prevent water for flowing and also to prevent the smell to come back into the bowl…


      1. Beautiful! Thank you for commenting and clarifying Monni… So indeed the fact that the toilet uses the flexible S-shape both decreases water consumption and also the smell. Congratulations on your award! This is an amazing feat!



    This is an invention it is very difficult for normal person to understand it is not any where in the book no one thought of this that is why it is called invention not innovation WE HAVE BEEN WASTING WATER EVER SINCE no EVER thought of this ,hope GOVERNMENT SEE THIS .I AM PROUD OF YOU SESI,MR BILL GATE HAVE TO SEE THIS .


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