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Eco-friendly Sanitation System with Emphasis as Rural Areas on 10th April, 2013 By:

Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, Ph. D., D. Litt.

Sociologist & Social Reformer Founder, Sulabh Sanitation Movement

In the sixties, when I started assessing sanitation and un-touchability scenario, hardly any house had a toilet in the rural areas. The people used to defecate in the open.

Women had to suffer the most. They had to go out for open defecation in the dark – before sunrise or after sunset. Their dignity was at risk, subjected to criminal assaults and occasionally suffer from snake bites. 2

Girls did not go to schools because of lack of toilet facilities in schools Mortality rate among children was very high because of diarrhoea, dehydration, hookworm, roundworm, etc. My own sister’s son died because of diarrhoea while he was being taken to hospital. 3

In urban areas 85% houses used to be served by bucket toilets cleaned manually by the human scavengers called untouchables.

The untouchables had to face all sorts of humiliation, insult and indignation by the society.

As per 1961 census there were 3.5 million human scavengers out of which 8,02,400 used to clean human excreta exclusively. Only 15 towns had sewerage treatment plants out of 2363 towns. 4

Open Defecation

Manual Scavenging

Scavengers had to clean bucket toilets before sunrise, so that nobody could see them or touch them. 6



Sanitation Status in India in 80’s • During launching of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade programme in India (1981-1990), sanitation status was reported to be dismal. • Urban sanitation coverage was hardly 26.9% and rural coverage was negligible and as low as 0.5% in 1981. • In last 3 decades, as reported in census 2011, the urban coverage has increased to 81.4% and rural sanitation to 30.7%.

The women folk specially face a lot of problems because they are only able to go for their toilet necessities and for relieving themselves either before sunrise or after sunset

The women are shy and hesitant who go for open defecation and relieving themselves after sunrise or before sunset. 9

After sunrise or before sunset they can’t go outside for their toilet needs so they are forced to hold back and are unable to relieve themselves which results many a times in their having stomach pain, headaches etc.

Because they are unable to relieve themselves they become unwell, they feel giddy and even faint at times. 10

Sometimes there is so much pressure and urge to relieve oneself that they defecate inside the house in utensils made out of mud or bamboos.

Women who are unwell defecate and relieve themselves inside the house itself in utensils made of mud or bamboos. 11

The human excreta is then thrown outside the house in the evening by the old ladies.

Under the cover of darkness in the evening old women throw the human faeces collected in the utensils , outside the house.


In the evening also when the women go for relieving themselves many a times incidents can happen like the women being bitten by snakes and insects.

Women who go for open defecation in the night can also be bitten by snakes or scorpions 13

Sometimes these women can also be subjected to indecent and criminal assault by anti-social elements.

At the time of defecation in the open by women they become easy targets for misbehaviour and molestation. 14

After defecating in the open the faeces is converted into mud but it contains bacteria which is visible under the microscope. The bacteria is transmitted in the stomach through the feet resulting in various ailments like diarrhoea, roundworm, hookworm, tape worm, cholera etc.

People used to go for open defecation barefooted as a result of which it resulted in the spread of diseases like dysentery, diarrhoea, cholera etc. 15

The presence of hook worm, round worm and tape worm results in children having anemia due to which their hands are shrivelled and their stomach is bloated.

Because of these illnesses the arms and legs of the children became thin and stomach used to protrude and bloat. 16

Diarrhoea and dysentery can also cause death.

Because of increase in infant mortality ratio many households were confronted with this problem. 17

When Mughals came to India then in some villages bucket toilets were introduced as their women used to defecate in privacy and those who were made captives were forced to clean these bucket toilets and dispose off human waste in the outskirts of the villages. After this some landlords belonging to different religions and castes also adopted bucket toilets for defecation.

There were bucket toilets in the houses of some landlords of different religions and castes. 18

These bucket toilets were cleaned by scavengers and untouchables.

The degrading task of human faeces being removed from these bucket toilets was done primarily by female scavengers who for centuries had been shunned and ostracized19by the society.

Technological Options for treatment of Human Waste

Sewerage System When British came to India to rule the country they also thought over the problems of sanitation in this country. The two technologies i.e. septic tank and the sewerage system which they developed and adopted in Britain were also introduced in this country. The sewerage system was laid down in London in 1850, New York in 1860 and Kolkata was the third city in the world to have the sewerage system in 1870. The sewerage system requires a huge investment both in the construction and maintenance and also it requires enormous quantity of water to flush.


Therefore in India out of 7933 towns and cities only 270 have sewerage treatment plants and in 900 towns and cities drains have been laid down without any sewerage treatment plant. Therefore this technology could not be acceptable on large scale not only in India but in all three continents of Africa, Asia and Latin America. In India one can not afford to have sewerage system in urban areas then how is it possible to have this in rural areas. In these circumstances the sewerage system is not an appropriate technological option.


Septic Tank: Not an Appropriate Option  Majority of the septic tanks had openings into open drains, which carries the liquid effluents from the septic tanks. This also leads to a high probability of ground or surface water pollution.  Septic tank requires more space.  The construction needs regular technical assistance and supervision.  This needs ventilation, which adds to cost.  Desludging of Septic tank is needed on regular basis. The sludge and effluent from a septic tank can not be used as a fertilizer straight away without causing health hazards.  Majority of masons, without knowledge of safe technologies, opt for septic tanks.

Other Technological Options for Treatment of Human Waste Before I go on to explain about the Sulabh two pit pour flush compost toilet (hereinafter referred to Sulabh Toilets) I would like to inform you that there are five other technologies, namely, 1.Borehole Latrine 2.Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) latrine 3.Double Pit VIP Latrine 4.Ecosan Latrine 5.Bio-digester Latrine

1. BOREHOLE LATRINE A borehole can be excavated by hand or with the help of an auger. Normally, the diameter of bore is 400 mm and depth may vary from 4 to 8 m depending upon the number of users and period for usage. The size of the platform is smaller than in case of pit type of latrine. The advantages and disadvantages of borehole latrines and directions for their use are summarised in the following table.

Advantage • • • •

Construction cost is low and suits the poor community Can be constructed in a short time Suitable for short time as the capacity of borehole is small No problem of infiltration of water, consumption of water being small and evaporation also helping to remove water Suitable at entry level

Do’s • • • •

Cover the pit hole after use Leave about 0.5 m of bore to cover with soil Provide ventilation in super structure Temporary superstructure is desirable to reduce initial and shifting costs.

Disadvantage • • • • •

Smell nuisance is present Flies and insects breed on the sides that get fouled by excreta Life is short Contamination of ground water if water table is high A new bore has to drilled when the one in operation is filled, requiring the shifting of superstructure

Don’ts • • • •

Boring should be above sub-soil water to avoid contamination Do not construct bore-hole latrine inside the dwelling Do not use large quantity of water for washing of floor. Do not use the pit for garbage disposal


Advantage • • • • • • •

Free from odour and flies Breeding of mosquitoes can be controlled Minimum consumption of water and so can function even in less permeable sails Easy to construct Easy to maintenance Most suitable where and cleaning is by soft/hard materials Suitable in impervious soils and rocky strata

Disadvantage • • • • •

Do’s • • •

• •

Minimum water to be used Keep the interiors of superstructure dark to prevent flies Check that wire mesh on vent pipe is of proper size openings clean the wire mesh periodical to clear blockage of openings, if any Keep the floor clean Throw small quantity of wood ash or soil after every use.

Unsuitable where cleaning of anals is by water. Cleaning of pit is to be done manually Superstructure needs to be removed when pit is filled up. If proper vent and mosquito trap are not provided, flies and mosquitoes breed. Difficulty in proper cleaning of floor due to restricted use of water.

Don’ts • • • • •

Do not keep the door open Do not leave any openings from pit or squatting platform (except squat hole) Do not leave the roof uncovered Do not leave the pit unlined if soil is collapsible Do not empty pit manually, particularly when excreta is fresh, to avoid health risk to emptier.


• •

• •

Advantage Ensures continuous use by alternating use of pits. Manual cleaning is safe after excreta is allowed to stabilize for a period of two years Reduced smell and fly nuisance than single pit VIP latrine Other advantages are same as in single pit VIP toilet

Do’s • • •

• •

The squat hole of latrine in use should be covered after each use Keep the squat hole of latrine not in use open The dividing wall of the two pits should be impervious which is done by plastering both sides of the wall Superstructure is kept dark to keep the flies away Yields good compost after two years of rest

• •


Costly in comparison to other to other pit and pour flush latrines Require greater care in changing over the use of pits

Don’ts • •

Do not use both pits simultaneously Do not empty the pit before two years after stopping its use.

4. Ecosan Toilet • Ecosan toilet is the most environment-friendly and low cost Sanitation System developed in the world over last decades. • An Ecosan toilet is an excellent solution for places without water or areas, which lack connection to a sewage system. It requires modest amount of water for flushing. It collects faecal matter and urine separately and then transforms these into fertilizer and soil conditioner of high quality. Additionally, this waste matter also contains significant amounts of valuable nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and micronutrients, which can be reused for agriculture purposes, As the faecal materials and urine are collected and stored separately, there is no scope of seepage of urine and faeces entering the soil and polluting the ground water.




 The pit being shallow the risk of  Unsuitable where anal cleaning is ground water contamination is greatly reduced.

with water.  Odour problem & fly nuisance

 Contents of the pit are having  Unaesthetic great fertilizer value.

 Unhygienic

 If two years have passed after  Contents of the first pit are not the last use of the pit then the


contents can be used directly as

before 2 years because it is not


fully decomposed.

 Suitable at entry level  Affordable cost




 Due to social stigma the user may not like to empty the pit.

5. BIO-DIGESTER LATRINE • Defense Research & Design Organisation (DRDO) has developed an eco-friendly biodegradable technology is environmental friendly, maintenance free and does not depend on conventional energy sources. The biodigester technology has two components : anaerobic microbial consortium and specially designed fermentation tank. – Per capita cost of investment has to be reduced. – Requires skilled technical manpower for installation – Needs planned implementation strategy for application – The quality of effluent needs monitoring. – This is a new technology being used in trains, Panchayat Bhawans and high altitude area.

The conditions laid down by WHO regarding appropriate sanitary latrines are as follows : • • • • • • • •

The surface should not be contaminated. There should be no contamination of ground water that may enter by way of springs or wells. There should be no contamination of surface water. Excreta should not be accessible to flies and animals There should be no handling of fresh excreta; or when this was indispensable, it should be restricted to the barest minimum. There should be freedom from odours or unsightly conditions. The method should be simple, inexpensive in construction and operation. WHO

These above mentioned technologies, excepting sewerage system, do not fulfill the conditions laid down by WHO to be called as sanitary latrines and thus not appropriate.

Sulabh Shauchalya Appropriate Technology Option To overcome these constraints, I invented, innovated and developed the two-pit pour-flush compost toilet and gave it the name ‘Sulabh Shauchalaya’. In this Sulabh Shauchalaya there are two pits, one is used at one time and the other is kept on standby. When the first pit is full, it is switched over to the other one and the first one after two years converts to inert state as manure to be used in the fields to raise the productivity of the field and also used in flower plants, and fruit trees etc. It becomes a bio-fertilizer which contains phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium. Moreover, Sulabh Shauchalaya also helps to economize the use of water which is not only the need of the country but the entire world. It is said that if a third world war happens in future that would be on water. Sulabh toilets require only 1 litre of water for flushing while the conventional toilet requires ten litres. Most importantly in this toilet, manual scavenging is not required in cleaning of such toilets. Anybody can clean the pits because when it is cleaned there is no human excreta as the same has already been converted into manure. Thus, Sulabh toilet, has become a tool of social change. This technology is helpful in both ending the practice of cleaning nightsoil manually and restoring scavengers’ human rights and dignity on one hand, and on the other it is helpful to stop defecation in the open.

Technical details of the Sulabh Shauchalaya – Two-pit Pour-flush Compost Toilet In the Sulabh Shauchalaya there are two pits one of which is used at one time. When one pit becomes full then the other pit is used. Both the pits are used but one at a time. After two years in the first pit the excreta turns into biofertilizer which can be cleaned by anybody and this fertilizer can then be used in fields and gardens for enhancing productivity. In Sulabh toilets the minimum period of cleaning the pit is 2 years the maximum is 40 years.


The construction of Sulabh Shauchalaya is also very easy and the same can be constructed without any difficulty. If there is space then one should make two round pits separately. The benefit of this is that the lower layer is absolutely dry and there is not even a drop of water. If there is shortage of space then both the pits can be made together with a partition wall in between.


The partition wall is one feet deeper than the other walls and is also jutting out one feet on both sides. To make the walls stones, bricks, woods or mud baked burnt clay rings, coaltar etc. can be used.

Sulabh pour-flush toilet for least space with the toilet on top of the pits 38

DIFFERENT DESIGNS OF SULABH TWO-PIT, POUR - FLUSH, COMPOST TOILET The Sulabh toilet has been designed in such a way that the poorest of the poor, middle class and even the rich people can have the facilities of Sulabh toilets because the cost of construction is affordable and can vary from Rs. 1500/- to Rs. 55,000/-

The technology remains the same, only the building materials differ and the period of cleaning of the pits. The minimum period of cleaning a pit is 2 years and maximum 40 years.


Cost (Rs. 1500)

Cost (Rs. 1600)

The cheapest toilet with jute on all sides on bamboo frame

Cost (Rs. 1750)

Cost (Rs. 2500) Superstructure made of thatched palm matting – affordable for poor people.40

Cost (Rs. 2650) Thatched wall with roof on bamboo frame

Cost (Rs. 7600) Brick wall with jute curtain.

Cost (Rs. 7250) Brick wall with no door.

Cost (Rs. 8000) Circular design without door and roof for people who feel claustrophobic.


Cost (Rs. 9500)

Cost (Rs. 9250) Toilet walls made of bricks with roof and wooden door- more expensive.

Brick toilet for those people who can afford to spend more money

Cost (Rs. 55000) Even the rich can get constructed Sulabh two-pit, pour flush toilets where there is no sewerage. The pits can be cleaned after 40 years.


Panoramic View of Different Designs of Sulabh Two-Pit, Pour-Flush, Compost Toilets

In the Sulabh two-pit technology there is flexibility of design which the beneficiary can choose 43 depending upon his affordability and size of family.

Picture of Sulabh Shauchalaya constructed by Sulabh in the villages of Haryana

Sulabh Shauchalaya (Two Pit Pour Flush Compost Toilet at Hirmathla (Haryana) Total Cost Rs. 15000/Rs. 12,000/- Railtel Corporation Rs. 3,000/- Beneficiary Contribution

Picture of Sulabh Shauchalaya constructed by Sulabh in the villages of Punjab

Sulabh Shauchalaya (Two Pit Pour Flush Compost Toilet) Cost Rs. 18,500/Cost borne by the State Government of Punjab

Picture of Sulabh Shauchalaya constructed by Sulabh in the villages of Bihar

Sulabh Shauchalaya (Two-pit, pour-flush compost toilet) Cost (Rs. 22,000/-)


Picture of Sulabh Shauchalaya constructed by Sulabh in the villages of Jharkhand

The platforms on the Sulabh pits can be used for a variety of purposes like cooking, chopping fish, chaffing grains and running a small shop.


The Sulabh toilet can be constructed in areas where the water-table is high, in waterlogged, flood prone and high sub-soil water areas where the pits could be raised. 49

WEALTH FROM WASTE In Sulabh Shauchalayas the human excreta after remaining in the pit for two years gets converted into biofertilizer. This biofertilizer is free from pathogens having a nitrogen content of 1.8%, phosphate 1.6% and potassium 1%. This biofertilizer helps to enhance the productivity of the soil and can be effectively used for agriculture and horticulture purposes.


The manure is a rich fertilizer and is a soil conditioner which improves the productivity of the field and fruits and flowers, when used for agriculture/ horticulture.

High yield of fruits

High yield of crops

Advantages of Sulabh Toilets  Hygienically and technically appropriate and socio-culturally acceptable.  Affordable and easy to construct with locally available materials.  Design and specifications can be modified to suit householder's needs and affordability.  Eliminates mosquito, insect and fly breeding.  Can be constructed in different physical, geological and hydrogeological conditions  Free from health hazards and does not pollute surface or ground water, if proper precautions and safeguards are taken during construction.  Can be located within the premises as it is free from foul smell and fly/mosquito nuisance etc.  Can be constructed on upper floors of houses.  Pits are generally designed for 3-year desludging interval, but if desired, it can be designed for longer periods or it can be reduced even to two years. 52

Advantages of Sulabh Toilets Contd.  Maintenance is easy, simple and costs very little.  Needs only 1 liter of water for flushing, while conventional flush toilet needs 10 liter of water.  Needs less space than a septic tank toilet system.  Does not need scavengers for cleaning the pits or disposal of sludge. This can be done by the householder.  Makes available rich fertilizer and soil conditioner.  Can be easily connected to sewers when introduced in the area.  A low volume flushing cistern could be attached to avoid pour flushing.


Why Two-Pits Are Better Than One Pit and Septic Tank I would like to advise here that one pit latrine should not be constructed because when the single pit becomes full, it will be difficult for the family to use the toilet so they will be forced to go in the open to defecate and secondly it will also encourage manual scavenging as the single pit will have to be cleaned manually. Moreover, the effluent coming out of septic tank is full of bacteria and pathogens. It should not be disposed off into the open drain or water bodies. It is necessary to construct soak pit to absorb the effluent of septic tank. On the day the septic tank is cleaned there still remains decomposed sludge, raw human excreta and water which again requires manual cleaning by the scavengers. Scavenging has been banned and those who will help the scavengers will also be prosecuted and fined. If the septic tank continues to be adopted then there will be a million dollar question how to clean septic tank because of cultural constraints of the country. 54

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report 2003 This technology and its effect can be best summed up by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report 2003 where it has been stated, “Much defecation in India still occurs in open spaces. But pioneering work by Sulabh International, a non-governmental organization (NGO), has shown that human waste can be disposed of affordably and in a socially acceptable way. Sulabh’s approach is based on partnerships with local governments, backed by community participation, and has substantially improved environmental quality in rural and urban slums inhabited by poor people.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report 2003 Contd. Sulabh’s solution is a low-cost, pour-flush water-seal toilet with leach pits for on-site disposal of human waste. The technology is affordable for poor people because designs suit different income levels. Flushing requires only 2 litres water, compared with the 10 used by other toilets. Moreover, the system is never out of commission because there are two pits – so one can always be used while the other is being cleaned. The latrine can be built with locally available materials and is easy to maintain. It also has high potential for upgrading because it can easily be connected to a sewer system when one is introduced in the area.

Sulabh Strategy ď‚— Invention of technology alone cannot improve the living

condition of the people but this has to be provided at the doorsteps of the customers and for that matter I adopted two strategies: (I) Motivation, Education, Communication and Training (II) The delivery system, Implementation, maintenance and follow-ups.

Methodology and Delivery System adopted by Sulabh for Construction of Toilets: •

Contacting the house-owners to convince and persuade them to agree to the conversion of dry latrines into Sulabh Shauchalayas (toilets).

Processing of forms

Sulabh workers complete the construction of toilets based on the choice of the householder selected from a wide range of design options.

Certificate of completion is given by the beneficiaries. 58

•Thereafter, Guarantee Card is issued with Sulabh accepting the responsibility of rectifying defects free-of-cost for a period of five years.

•As proof of construction done, a photograph is also taken of the toilets and beneficiaries.


•The methodology has been a great success generating mutual trust and confidence amongst beneficiaries, Government agencies and Sulabh.

•For effective delivery system of services, vision, dedication, ethics, morality and follow-up is essential.


So far, Sulabh has installed about 1.3 million toilets in the country including over one lac in rural areas and 8,000 public toilets and baths at public places being used by over 15 million people every day.


Maintenance of Public Toilet Complexes • In 1973, I introduced the system of maintenance of public toilets on “pay and use” basis. Initially there were skeptical views about the functioning of the technologies and its success. • But on the very first day 500 people used the public toilet in Patna, Bihar. • However It took several years to convince the Government and the people. • Earlier people were not habituated to paying for the use of public toilets.

The First Sulabh Public Toilet Complex constructed and maintained at Gandhi Maidan, Patna, Bihar

Sulabh Public Toilet Complexes


 Facilities for lockers for keeping belongings, safe drinking

water, telephone facilities, night shelter, health centre, etc. are provided in Sulabh toilet complexes.

Cloak room facility at Sulabh Toilet Complex, Shirdi, Nasik, Maharashtra

Inside View – ‘Dormitory’ Sulabh Toilet Complex at Deoghar, Jharkhand. 65

Wash Basin for Hand Wash – Inside view of Sulabh Toilet Complex, Delhi.


•Public toilets are now working as Public health centers. We have installed condom vending machines and are providing condoms to check population growth and diseases like HIV/AIDS.

Sulabh Toilet Complex – New Delhi Railway Station, Delhi.

Child friendly Toilet known as “Bal Mitra Sauchalaya” - Inside view, Bhopal,69India

“Bal Mitra Sauchalaya” - Inside view, Bhopal, India


Child friendly Toilet known as “Bal Mitra Sauchalaya” - Inside view, Bhopal,71India

Major issues in promoting rural sanitation Although the rural sanitation coverage has increased exponentially in the last decade, the real impact could not be appreciated due to increase in total number of rural households. Poverty Dysfunctional of toilets Caste based division Community approach Behavior change Lack of land Scavengers

Major Problems in achieving the sustainable sanitation

Poverty  Study by Centre for Media Studies (CMS), in 2010 indicates, 41% of the respondents cited poverty as the reason for non-construction of toilets.  Due to increase in cost of toilet construction poor people of rural areas are not able to afford the price.  GOI provides for BPL households Rs. 3200/-(Rs. 3700/- for hilly and difficult areas) and State governments provide Rs. 1400/- per IHHL BPL households are expected to find resources for rest.  MNREGS funding could be taped for funding the construction of IHHL.  Most assessments have calculated IHHL cost at about 12,000- 16,000.  JMP 2010 report published by UNICEF/WHO mentions that as per the worldwide trend, households living in lowest wealth quintile are 16 times more likely to resort to open defecation as compared to the households living in highest wealth quintile.

Dysfunctional toilets and O & M • Many incomplete/poorly constructed toilets are dysfunctional due to lesser availability of funds. • The CMS study, shows that 41% of respondents are not using the toilets due to dysfunctional and poor infrastructure and 22% no superstructure. • One of the important reason for not using the toilets are poor quality of construction as well as material like pit/septic tank full, chocked pan/pipes, poor quality of pan and foot rests wrong location, filled with debris and used as storage space among others.

Community Approach • The community is not sensitized regarding the impact of the open defecation and its impact on health, dignity and security especially of women and children. An assessment undertaken by WSP-World Bank in Himachal Pradesh in 2005 revealed that With approximately 30% sanitation coverage, incidence of diarrhea was reported by approximately 38% households. With 95 per cent sanitation coverage, the diarrheal incidences were reported by around 26% households. Only open defection free (ODF) villages with 100 per cent sanitation coverage reported significantly lower incidences of diarrhea by approximately 7% households. In effect, even if a few individual households switch to using toilets, the overall risk of bacteriological contamination and incidence of disease continues to be high.

Behavior Change  The country has come a long way to break the traditional barrier and taboo associated with toilets, open defecation in rural areas continues to be a socially and culturally accepted traditional behavior at large, by both rich and poor.  At present, up to 15% of project outlay is reserved for IEC activities.  A study undertaken by UNICEF in 2008, it was found that out of the 81% of the population having access to sanitation in NGP panchayats, only 67% were using the facilities.

Scavengers  According to census 2011: Night soil is removed by human beings in740,078 HH In Rural India, 503,480 households are served by human beings.  For scavengers liberation proper technology adaptation and rehabilitation of scavengers are desirable.

UNTOUCHABLE SCAVENGERS • Sulabh has been able to change the attitude and behaviour of Indians towards scavengers. • These ‘untouchable’ scavengers and their wards were given education and were provided with vocational training in various trades like tailoring, embroidery, plumbing, electric, beauty care, making eatables such as papadums, noodles, etc. This helped them towards self employment and in earning the livelihoods. • Temple entry of the liberated and rehabilitated scavengers restored their dignity and human rights. • They had the privilege to meet the highest dignitaries in the country and abroad.

Scavengers had to clean bucket toilets before sunrise, so that nobody could see them or touch them. 81

NAI DISHA: AN INITIATIVE TOWARDS REHABILITATION OF SCAVENGERS  ‘Nai Disha’ Vocational Training Centres were set up at Alwar, in April 2003 and at Tonk, Rajasthan in 2006 to liberate and rehabilitate women hitherto engaged in the profession of scavenging till March end 2003.

A comprehensive 2-year training is being provided to women scavengers in various vocations to help them earn their livelihoods. They were also taught to read and write through adult literacy classes.


Nai Disha trainees (erstwhile scavengers) taking education and vocational training in beauty care trade.

Nai Disha trainees (erstwhile scavengers) making papadum and packaging is also being done by them for marketing the product.

Nai Disha trainees in a vocational training session - making noodles.

Economic Sustainability and Social Transformation

The social transformation brought about can be gauged by the incredible fact that the same society that was averse even to the touch of a scavenger, today readily purchases products (even eatables) prepared by the hands of these very scavengers’. This symbolises a fundamental change in the attitude nursed for centuries by the people. 87

A New Dawn - Nai Disha trainees are making and stitching Namda – a handicraft work which are very popular in Rajasthan, India.


A monthly stipend of Rs. 2000 or US$ 40 is paid to ensure that they do not return to their earlier profession. The stipend is directly put into their bank accounts which they operate themselves. 89

Erstwhile Scavengers Gain Entry in Temple

Entering a temple – a dream fulfilled on December 21, 2008 of scavengers whose entry was banned for centuries due to the practice of untouchability. 90


H.E. Mr. Vijay Nambiar, Chef de Cabinet of the Executive Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations, crowning Mrs. Usha Chaumar, an erstwhile women scavenger of Alwar, Rajasthan on July 2, 2008 at the event “Sanitation for Sustainable 91 Development” in the United Nations at New York.


The liberated women scavengers showing the sign of ‘V’ for Victory as a sign of triumph, in front of the Statue of Liberty in New York, USA to show their liberation from the demeaning profession of cleaning dry privies and carrying human excreta (night-soil) of others, to eke a living for 92 their families.


The Hon’ble President of India, Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, crowned Mrs. Usha Chaumar in the Rashtrapati Bhawan.



Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, giving audience to the erstwhile scavengers of Alwar, Rajasthan, who used to clean night-soil earlier: and now after education and training have become self-employed and lead a life of dignity. 94

Mrs. Usha Chaumar, President Sulabh Sanitation Mission Foundation greeting Hon'ble Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson UPA on behalf of delegation of Nai Disha, Alwar, Rajasthan.


WATER AVAILABILITY IN INDIA • If we look at the present scenario, we are heading towards a crisis. About 85% of the rural population in India is solely dependant on ground water which is depleting at a fast rate. • In the urban areas, though about 60% of the population is dependent on surface water sources, the availability of fresh water is decreasing fast and quality is increasingly questionable. • It has been recently estimated that by 2017 India will be water stressed as per capita availability will decline to around 1600 cu m.

UNSAFE WATER • Around 15-20 per cent of the urban and rural population does not have access to regular safe drinking water and many more are threatened. Most of them depend on unsafe water sources to meet their daily needs. • Moreover, water shortages in cities and villages have led to large volumes of water being collected and transported over great distances by tankers and other means. These are of questionable quality and mostly far less than the desired norm.

LOW WATER AVAILABILITY IMPACT ON HEALTH • Analysis of data from 2011 Census shows that around 85 per cent of India’s population is being provided with safe drinking water sources. Even for this population availability of water is of questionable quantity during summer. Many a time people have to survive with less than half of the desired norm. • The problem of low availability of water is increasing as a result of excessive extraction of ground water to meet agriculture, industrial and domestic demands. This low availability of water is responsible for as many as 15 water related diseases such as scabies, lice and typhus, trachoma, conjunctivitis, bacillary dysentery, amoebic dysentery, salmonellosis, paratyphoid fever, Hook warm etc.

CHEMICAL CONTAMINATION • Chemical contaminants, namely fluoride and arsenic, pose a very serious health hazard in the country. • It is estimated that around 70 million people in 22 states are at risk due to excessive fluoride and around 30 million people are at risk due to excessive arsenic in ground water.

IMPACT ON HEALTH • The global impact of lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene on the community health is enormous – 4 billion cases of diarrhoea, 2.2 million deaths and 62.2 million disability of life years lost. • According to World Bank study, 99.9% of the mortality and morbidity caused by unsafe water and lack of hygiene and sanitation is in the developing countries. • 1.7 million children under 5 died in India during 2010 from diarrhoeal infections (22% of global total).


• It is unfortunate that while India is aspiring to be an economic superpower and aiming at an annual growth rate of 7-8% of GDP, we are increasingly falling behind in providing basic and elementary service of safe and potable water to the community. • The impact on the health and environment of the community is extremely serious as is borne out by the World Bank study that India is annually losing 4-6% of its GDP in terms of damages caused by lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

IMPROVE FRESH WATER AVAILABILITY • We may improve fresh water availability either by reducing the consumption or by increasing availability of water. • Sulabh International Social Service Organization has been practising both the Sulabh sanitation technologies to improve fresh water availability.

Water Saved if Sulabh two-pit System is Adopted Total Number of toilet users worldwide

6 billion

Water used in Sulabh 2 Pit toilet

1 litre

If flushed twice a day water required

2 litres

Water used for septic tank/conventional sewerage per flush

10 litres

If flushed twice a day, water used

20 litres

Water saved daily

18 litre per day per person

Total water saved globally

18X365 = 6,570 billion litres/day

If 2.6 billion people go for Sulabh toilets, water saved

2.6X18X365 = 17,082 billion litres/day

Water saved by existing 1.2 million Sulabh toilets average use 7 persons twice a day

7X2X 18X1.2 = 302.4 million litres/day

ENERGY FROM WASTE Recycling and Reuse of Human Waste • I developed another technology for complete recycling of human excreta through biogas generation and on-site treatment of effluents through a simple and convenient technology for its safe reuse without health or environmental risk.

HUMAN EXCRETA BASED BIOGAS TECHNOLOGY • From public toilets human excreta goes inside the digester and biogas is produced without any chemical, bacteria or change agents. Very low quantity of water is needed to run the digester. This saves fresh water. • Only 10-20 kgs. of cow dung is required to be put inside the digester on the first day of use. • The biogas produced is then channelized for lighting mantle lamps, warming oneself in winters, cooking and also for conversion into energy for street lighting.




Biogas used for cooking



Biogas used to warm oneself in winter



Biogas used for lighting of mantle lamps


Biogas used for Electricity Generation • Initially, in the dual fuel genset 80% biogas and 20% diesel were required to run the engine, but now under the new system ignition of compressed biogas is done through battery operated spark system.


Sulabh has been involved in treatment of waste water coming out of public toilet in various ways. It had developed technologies for digester effluent for hydrophonic, Duckweed Waste, Waste water treatment and Sulabh Effluent Technology(SET).

Public Toilet linked to Biogas Digester and Sulabh Effluent Treatment (SET) Device

•The water discharged is treated by passing it through sedimentation chamber, sand filter, aeration tank, charcoal and 114 through ultra violet rays.


• The effluent discharged from public toilet, after treatment, becomes so pure that its Biochemical Oxygen Demand is less than ten milligram per litre. • This water is safe for discharge into rivers or water bodies, without polluting them. Hence, this also prevents pollution from the sewage. It can also be used for cleaning of floors of public toilets. • Both these technologies are suitable for market places, housing colonies, high-rise buildings, public places, schools, colleges, hospitals etc.

Sulabh Toilet Complex attached with Biogas Plant at Kabul, Afghanistan

RAIN WATER HARVESTING • Rainwater harvesting systems use the principle of conserving rainwater where it falls. Stored water could be used for domestic purpose or for recharging the groundwater. Traditionally these systems were built to suit the specific environment in which they evolved and worked efficiently in different social, economic and political environment. • Theoretically, rain captured from 1-2 per cent of India’s land can provide India’s population of 1 billion as much as 100 litres of water per person per day.

RAIN WATER HARVESTING PROJECTS • Sulabh International Social Services Organization successfully constructed and implemented the rainwater harvesting structure in • Ramakrishna Mission Sewashram, Lucknow, • DIN Cooperative Group Housing Society, Dwarka, • New Delhi, Scindia School, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh • And in five hotels of Taj Group (Indian Hotels Co. Ltd.) at different locations to augment the groundwater recharge. Sulabh is also looking forward in this direction in the near future. • Most of the government and institutional buildings can be suitably modified for installation of rainwater harvesting structure to recharge the groundwater.

Duckweed Based Waste Water Treatment • This waste water treatment is suitable for population less than one lac. •A fast growing free floating plant. • Reduces BOD,COD of waste water. • Contains up to 30 % protein. 119


•Complete feed for fish. • In duckweed treated water fish is grown. • 8-10 tons of fish per ha. of pond/annum can be harvested


SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT Water Hyacinth • Water Hyacinth is an aquatic, seasonal weed and the advantage of this weed is that – • It is a good substrate for biogas generation.

• Biogas is non functional in summer due to non availability of water hyacinth. The biogas can be produced throughout the year by harvesting, drying and pulverising this weed. • The biogas generation shows better result when fed with dried water hyacinth and increase the gas production.




• Whereas in urban areas Government of India has increased unit cost to Rs.15,000/-, yet in rural areas this has not been done although cost are by and large same. This could be considered. • For Motivation, education, communication, training, designing, estimation, handholding, implementation, maintenance and follow-up, dedicated NGOs/motivators called ‘Missionaries of Sanitation’ should be trained on a large scale. Masons should also be trained on a large scale for building the toilets.


• Like ILCS Scheme under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, the NGOs/motivators may be allowed to charge 15% as supervision charge if they perform all the functions mentioned above. This decision will help to save public exchequer from extra financial burden over the salaries and expenditure or regular government staff. • The motivators should persuade and motivate the villagers to wear shoes and slippers for defecation in the open till they have toilets in their homes. This will act as a preventive measure and save them from various diseases.


• Advocacy by motivators should be both intensive and of adequate duration so that they are able to convince the beneficiaries to install the two-pit pour flush compost toilets. This will also help them to answer all queries and questions asked by the villagers. • The motivators should also have knowledge of septic tank technology so that they could be able to distinguish between two pit pour flush compost toilet and septic tank and the advantages and disadvantages of both the technologies. People in general, even if they don’t have adequate knowledge of the septic tank, prefer to have septic tank and therefore the motivators should have in depth knowledge to convince the beneficiaries about the advantages of the two-pit pour flush compost toilet and disadvantages of the septic tank. 126

• These motivators would also have adequate literature and kit bags so that they can educate the beneficiaries how to get the proper toilet built, maintained as also to rectify in case if some problems or defects develop. • Literature should be published in local languages so that the villagers can easily understand and be benefitted from the books, pamphlets and other materials. • The beneficiaries should be given choice of many designs of toilets ranging from Rs. 1500/- to Rs. 55,000/- so that they could be able to adopt the toilets as per their choice and income. This will help in the adoption of this technology by everybody, rich and poor. Government’s incentive being limited, the balance can be met by beneficiaries. 127

• Apart from subsidy, loan should be given by the Banks on differential rate of interest under priority sector lending to enable them to build toilets of their own choice. • Apart of catering to BPL/EWS/LIG the subsidy and loan may be given to all belonging to middle income and higher income groups irrespective of their income so that everybody can have toilets in their homes. • It is a wrong notion that only poor have no toilets in the villages. Even the middle and higher income groups also have no toilets in the villages. Because they also have no toilets in their homes so the facilities of subsidy and loan should be given to all. If not subsidy then loan is a must. 128

•Showing of documentary films, Nukkad Natak and dramas should also be encouraged so that people are able to gain insight and knowledge about the efficacy and urgency of having safe and hygienic toilets. This will save them from contracting diseases. •Two to four seater toilets may be constructed in the panchayat bhawans, community centres, health centres, anganwadis and schools so that children and people can have access to toilet facilities and benefits therefrom will popularize its use. •Public toilets should not be discouraged in villages even though it is difficult to maintain them. Four to five seater toilets may be built for persons who are landless and have no access to toilet facilities. The responsibility of keeping these toilets clean and well-maintained should be that of the users. •If there are small markets like haats, pethiyas or bazaars and bus stands adjacent to the village then in that case public toilets can be constructed and maintained. 129

•If the rural youth want to produce energy and biofertiliser from animal dung to supply biogas or street-light in the village, in that case public toilets may be constructed and connected to the biogas plants. In this biogas plant Water Hyacinth may be used to increase the production of the biogas. This knowledge should also be imparted to the motivators and entrepreneurs. The presence of water hyacinth increases the production of biogas by four times. •To give dignity to women, in the toilets there should be a provision of bathing space for ladies as they cannot take proper bath outside the house. Similarly in community toilets there should be separate enclosures for them, so that they can bathe in privacy. 130

• For solid waste management in the villages there should be provision of composting of waste materials to produce biofertilisers. To produce biofertilisers there should be two composting pits. The pits can be constructed of different sizes as per the requirement of the family. The bio-degradable waste material should be collected in one composting pit and the other will remain on standby. After six months the first pit will be covered and closed to be converted as biofertiliser. Thereafter the second pit will come in operation. Before filling of the second pit the biofertiliser will be taken out from the first pit and can be used as manure, thereafter, in a similar way the second pit can be used. • At places where there is water supply or water sources like wells, taps and hand pumps there should be a recharge well which should be connected to the drain so that water will not get wasted and instead get collected in the recharge well. Thus it will conserve water, prevent breeding of the mosquitoes and help in prevention of diseases. 131

Thank You!

Sulabh International Social Service Organisation Sulabh Gram, Mahavir Enclave, Palam-Dabri Road, New Delhi-110 045, India Tel. No. : 91-11-25031518, 25031519; Fax : 91-11-25034014 Email : / Website : /


Eco-friendly Sanitation System with Emphasis as Rural Areas