More than 53 percent of Indian homes — about 70 percent in the villages — lack toilets.
In response to this colossal deficit, PM Modi’s government has built more than 5.8 million toilets last year— up from 4.9 million the previous year. His independence day speech this year on August 15th 2015 reaffirmed his resolve to build even more this year.Way to go, Modi Ji!
The picture here below paints a different picture – Some people who have been ceremoniously gifted a toilet DO NOT WANT IT. “We never asked for a toilet. Now we are stuck with it,” said Natholi, 22, as he opened the squat toilet to show that it has not been used. His 62-year-old father peered in and shook his head. “Having a toilet so close to the house is not a good idea.
The pit is too small; it will fill up quickly. I don’t want the bother of cleaning it up frequently. Going out to the open field is healthier. The open breeze outside is better than sitting inside this tiny room.” (Source Washington Post).
Well there are multiple issues related here such as women’s safety, pit-cleaning mechanization, water related health issues etc that could be debated. However I would like to draw your attention to two issues
- Cultural baggage and therefore slow adaption to change by people who have not used toilets for generations
- Our collective inability to find cost effective, innovative and sustainable solution to induce continued usage
My dear old friend Navin Bhatia introduced me to Swedish toilet solution which I am putting here for you to see and comment as an answer to point number 2:-
THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABLE SANITATION
India has 16% of the world’s population but only 4% of the world’s freshwater at its disposal. This well-known fact has some alarming consequences, given our current practices. It is rightly said that yesterday’s solutions are today’s problems. The Water Closet toilet, patented in 1778, is one such solution. During the 1800s, having toilets and sewer systems that could control human waste became a priority to lawmakers, medical experts, inventors, and the general public to prevent diseases. Without plumbed sanitation within the home to dispose of human waste, we would still be living in a brutal age of cholera, dysentery, typhus and typhoid fever—to say nothing of bubonic plague.
However, today, these WCs are leading to multiple problems ranging from excessive water wastage, water pollution to energy wastage in sewage treatment, groundwater contamination etc. Humans produce on an average only 50 L of feces and 500 L of urine per year. A normal flush toilet uses an additional 15,000 L of drinking water per person per year to flush it out of the house. This water, rendered useless by the pathogens contained in the excreta is mixed with grey-water (from cleaning), liquid toxic waste from industries to form sewage. India has installed sewage treatment capacity for just 27.8 % of total sewage generation. Therefore, most of the untreated sewage pollutes rivers, contaminates groundwater and leads to environmental degradation.
India, with its 620 million people still defecating in the open, needs an environment friendly sanitation solution that is able to alleviate the risks and challenges associated with the present day models and can efficiently be scaled to the different parts of the country. Enclosed Long Term Composting (ELTC) Toilets offer one such solution.
How does Long term composting toilet work?
A composting toilet is a dry toilet that uses a predominantly aerobic processing system that treats excreta, typically with no water or small volumes of flush water, via composting or managed aerobic decomposition. It consists of two chambers separated by a starter bed which separates the urine from the feces. This started bed is usually made of sawdust, coconut coir or peat moss to support aerobic processing, absorb liquids, and to mitigate odor.
Human feces consist mostly of organic matter and water. Composting toilets greatly reduce the volume of excreta on site through mesophilic composting such that after 6 years only 2% of the original volume is left.
In the composting toilet, the urine undergoes a process called “Nitrification” in which the ammonia gets converted to nitrates and nitrites. This makes the urine usable as a liquid, natural fertilizer which can be used. It is completely odor-free and does not have microbial contamination.
Benefits of ELTC toilets
- No scavenging – It isolates feces with its disease causing potential bacteria, virus and parasites for up to 40 years. In this way it supersedes the two-pit leach model which needs to be emptied after every 2 years and has a leaching risk.
- Does not contribute to sewage and hence does not cause any water pollution. This also saves the energy and cost incurred in transport of waste and sewage treatment as required in Septic Tanks.
- Saves water. Only 1 liter of self cleansing water is required.
- Closes the Bio–cycle from Nature to Nature as it yields a clean, concentrated, safe-to-use, odor-free liquid fertilizer and puts both macro- and micro-nutrients back into the soil.
- Odor-free as the biodigester has a ventilation pipe used for aerobic composting. This is an advantage that these toilets have over the DRDO biodigesters that use anaerobic bacteria for decomposition.
- Comfortable to use as compared to the Ecosan toilets which require the user to urinate, defecate and cleanse in three different holes.
- Suitable for any geographical terrain.
- Requires little maintenance. It can be cleaned with only a little quantity of water.
- The filtered liquid is a very rich fertilizer and tests have been done in India where a family of 4 can save rs 13500 per year on fertilizer
- Pilot projects have been done in City of Faridabad (Near Delhi) , State of Bihar (Eastern Part of India) and now in State of Rajasthan (North Western Part of India) since 2010
The Way Forward for Schools and Public toilets – Please see One Good Option for details.
Well believe me it was pretty simple for me to put this document for you to see, appreciate and if possible educate people who matter. However its quite a shot gun approach that may not yield much.Therefore I would continue to engage with the issue and come up with more viable options and evidence of its application. Would you join me in this search. You are welcome. Do let me know what you found or initiated and inspired.
If we look around we will see that there are many a great minds working on the issue. Have you seen this? Bill & Melinda Gates in their various visits to India and other 3rd world countries found this a worthy mammoth problem to engage with and therefore started the – REINVENT THE TOILET CHALLENGE. You can see details at http://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/Global-Development/Reinvent-the-Toilet-Challenge and participate if you will.
What do I propose to do – Engage with the first point I raised about the culture of using an enclosed toilet instead of a field or open space as a matter of choice. I am promoting a venture to help people discover the benefits using a toilet – to begin with the metropolis of Delhi – Gurgaon – Noida – Faridabad (or simply put the National Capital Region).
I am soliciting ideas from you to do this most effectively. I would love to welcome any suggestions that you may have. I promise to put them together and build out a time bound action plan around it on this blog.…
Waiting for your response!!