After leaving school, Chris Murphy spent four years as a commissioned officer in the British Army. After leaving the army, he worked for various home improvement companies, before using his knowledge and experience to start Dunster House.
I set up Dunster House in 1994 as a supplier of PVC windows and doors across the UK. We then started manufacturing timber garden products (log cabins, summer houses, garden offices, climbing frames, garages, gazebos, sheds) in 2002.
But the company is constantly moving forward and searching for new solutions. That’s why we’ve started working on our humanitarian range. We see a major need for new sanitation solutions, especially in Africa.
Why are you attending AidEx?
We came to AidEx last year with our Eco Composting Toilet. It was a very fruitful experience for us as we met Oxfam representatives and were able to promote our products and also share our experience with the international aid and development community. After a few months we received a grant from Oxfam to produce a prototype. It was a big step forward for us.
Since then we have sold our new sanitation products to Oxfam, including raised latrines, superstructures and trenches. They have gone to South Sudan, where thousands of people are living in temporary camps or small villages without access to water and innovative sanitation facilities. We have also become involved in a UNICEF project in Chad.
We’re planning to exhibit our new latrines this year. They have been designed for built-up urban areas and locations with rocky ground or high water tables. They are ideal for domestic and communal use following an emergency, and some of them are already in use in South Sudan and in the Central African Republic.
Why are NGO partnerships innovative and beneficial?
We believe that with the right distribution network our products could help communities across the globe. Working with organisations like UNICEF or Oxfam ensures we can bring our knowledge and experience to bear in tackle the sanitation crisis.
As a company we are constantly looking for new and better solutions. That’s why we keep expanding our humanitarian range, and we always welcome input to individualise our products for potential clients.
Big challenges remain
It’s really difficult to bring the “taboo subject” of toilets and open defecation out of the shadows because it is still a topic that people joke about.
In a humanitarian aid situation, improving sanitation is often low on the list of priorities as there are so many other needs to be met. But more and more people are realising the health and economic benefits to individual, the communities and societies which can emerge from improved sanitation.
That’s why the role that civil society and non-governmental organizations play in raising awareness of this issue is so important.