Toilets Please

Highlights

Sulabh Sauchalaya, a Cost-Effective Solution, Sulabh Sauchalaya, Modern India. There are many schools in rural areas that suffer from lack of toilets. In certain drought-hit regions even though there are toilets.

Sulabh Sauchalaya, a cost-effective solution.

There are many schools in rural areas that suffer from lack of toilets. In certain drought-hit regions even though there are toilets, it is the scarcity of water that is stopping the students from using the toilets. Many schools in villages find it hard for adequate funds to construct toilets. Sulabh International’s Sulabh Sauchalaya offers a cost-effective solution to all the problems.

The Sulabh Sauchalaya (SS) is one of the most interesting and successful social innovations of modern India. It deals with a fundamental necessity of life in the developing world: the construction of toilets and their maintenance. The term Sulabh Sauchalaya literally means “easy access to sanitation”. Brain child of Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, Sulabh International was founded in 1970 to provide toilet facilities on turnkey basis.

The NGO had humble beginnings in Bihar, the state that was worst effected with lack of toilets. Dr Bindeshwar Pathak worked along with RL DAS to perfect the design of what has today come to be called the Sulabh Sauchlaya. By 1978, Pathak’s organisation has constructed about 10,000 toilets in Bihar alone.

Sulabh International’s initiated a new programme based on fabricating a new design for low cost water seal toilets and pushed these through self financing scheme. These are being extensively used even in upper classes as they are far better than conventional toilets

Design

The main design of Sulabh Sauchalaya comprises a few simple components which can be successfully constructed by village –level, trained masons. The first component is the toilet pan, which must have a steep slope and a trap with a water seal which would require not more than 1.5 to 2 litres of water for manual flushing purposes. The second major element of the sulabh system is that it requires that two leach pits be constructed outside (and usually behind) the toilet. Both leach pits are connected to the toilet through pipes.

However, at any given time, only one pit must be open to the waste discharged from the toilet. Waste materials from the toilets lead into the leach pit: the water disperses into the soil through holes in the pit lining (the leach pit tank has a honey comb pattern) and this leaves the solid waste to dry so that it can be used as manure. When one pit is full, the pipe leading to the second pit is opened and the first one is blocked. After 18 months, the contents of the first pit are considered to be digested and are safe for handling as good compost.

The pit can then be conveniently emptied and kept ready for use once the second pit is filled. The cost of the entire system is very low, compared to others. Very little water is requires (2 litres) for flushing the pan. Very little space is required for construction (a 6 x 6 area). The cost of construction is around Rs 2,000.

It’s based on this technology Sulabh international has constructed hundreds of pay and use toilets. Some larger complexes are connected to bio-gas plants used to fuel cooking stoves and street lighting. These are seen in Bus stands, railway stations, slum areas and even at beaches.

The nature of the technology involved in the Sulabh Sauchalaya is ideally suited for up-scaling. The significance of the Sulabh Sauchalaya technology has already been recognised, not only by centre and state governments and by several international development agencies like the World Bank, the United Nations care for Human Settlements and the WHO.

Since the technology is simple and can be fabricated at the village level, there is ample scope for replication in many places through trained masons. The revolution that originated in Bihar has spread to all the states of Indian union and abroad.

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