Laurent Helewa had the idea after Hurricane Katrina and thinks the invention might be useful in other such disaster situations where thousands of displaced people are crowded into emergency accommodation, with inadequate, if any, toilet facilities.
“The first problem is to have access to a toilet. Because if not, people will do their business wherever, and you end up with epidemics such as cholera,” Helewa told the French news agency.
The unit weighs about two kilogrammes and is essentially a piece of cardboard, which folds into a boxed seat in one minute. It comes with plastic bags which each contain an absorbent pad to soak up liquids.
The heavy-duty version was tested by four armies, and can withstand a weight of 200kg and a usage of 20 hours per day.
The French invention is one of among more than 1,000 creations showcased at this week’s International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva.