Potential Solutions to Sanitation Crisis

Sanitation and Hygiene are critical to health, survival and development. Many countries are challenged in providing adequate sanitation for their populations, leaving the people at a risk for water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases. Throughout the world, an estimated 2.5 Billion people lack access to basic sanitation and hygiene. Basic sanitation is described as protecting the health of communities and to have access for the safe disposal of human and animal waste. It consists of sewage collection and treatment, urban cleaning, solid waste management, pest control as well as control of any type of pathological agent.

Sanitation makes a positive contribution in family literacy. According to a UNICEF study, for every 10 per cent increase in female literacy, a country’s economy can grow by 0.3 per cent. Thus, sanitation contributes to social and economic development of the society. Improved sanitation also helps the environment. Clean drinking water and good sanitation would not prevent infections without practicing good hygiene.

In India, rapid urbanization and the increasing population has placed a major strain on the existing infrastructure and has affected in providing clean drinking water, and effective sanitation measures. Though the government has tried to overcome this problem through urban development programs like the Clean India Campaign, the total costs required for successful operations continue to deface their efforts. Hence, the contributions of corporations, and other organizations is of immense help when developing proper sanitation and hygiene measures.

Solutions to the Sanitation problems:

When planning for a long-term waste management solution, sanitation solutions are required to minimize the spread of diseases which also includes sanitation facilities, hand washing facilities with soap and water, operation and maintenance regimes and community education. Some of the potential solutions are:

  • Packet Latrines: using bio-degradable bags for point of use sanitation that are buried or properly disposed. These bags generally use reusable buckets.

    Advantages:

  1. No infrastructure required
  2. Lightweight and easy to transport
  3. It can be used where space is severely limited

        Constraints:

  1. Prohibitive cost for some of the bags.
  2. Need for the disposal site and collection services.
  3. Social acceptance varies and would need to be determined for the targeted population.
  4. Requires intense hygiene campaign to educate the community on handling and for the disposal of the bags.

  • Bucket Latrines or Elevated Toilets: elevated temporary structure over large tank or container that can be lined with large replaced plastic bag.

Advantages:

  1. Large containers are easily procured.
  2. Suitable for sites where digging of latrines are not feasible.
  3. Large containers require less frequent emptying.

Constraints:

  1. Require tanks and desludging trucks.
  2. Need for the sewage disposal site.
  3. Social acceptance varies and would need to be determined for the targeted population.
  4. Requires intense hygiene campaign to educate the community on handling and for the disposal of the bags.
  • Chemical Toilets: these are portable prefabricated sanitation units with water tight excreta holding tanks containing a chemical solution to aid digestion and reduce odor.

Advantages:

  1. Portable
  2. Hygienic
  3. Minimize odor
  4. Well suited to areas with high water table or flooding areas
  5. Can be mobilized easily.

Constraints:

  1. Excessive cost
  2. Difficult to transport
  3. Require frequent emptying due to the size of the tank
  4. Require desludging trucks and disposal sites
  • Ecological sanitation (Eco-San): Elevated structure over container or bin which stores organic waste for decomposition. Dehydrating toilets divert urine from organic waste and require bulk drying and pH additives. Non-urine diverting toilets collect all waste for decomposition and require the addition of organics. Used for accustomed populations or agricultural communities.

Advantages:

  1. Minimize odor
  2. Well suited to areas with high water table or where flooding occurs
  3. Decomposed organics can augment top soil and fertilizers in agriculture

Constraints:

  1. Difficult to construct
  2. High level management required
  3. Consumables required (ash/lime and/or organics)
  4. Complex to operate and maintain
  5. Requires intense hygiene campaign to ensure proper use.

If there was easy access to toilets everywhere in India, there would be a lower chance of diarrheal diseases, this would in turn improve the sanitation and hygiene measures. According to the ‘true cost of poor sanitation’ lack of access to sanitation will have a negative impact on the society as well as on the economic growth of the company. Some of the methods that our country can implement for a better sanitation are:

  1. Solar Powered Urine Diversion toilets from Africa: these are 100% waterless and chemical free toilets. This toilet model is affordable and user friendly and can be installed in rural parts of India. This type of model needs low maintenance, saves water and is one of the most advanced composting toilets in the world. This toilet comes attached with a solar powered fan which dries the human excreta instead of flushing it out the conventional way. The fan runs for 24 hours and it easily dries the excreta which is eventually used as a manure.
  2. Portable Tent Toilets: It is an earth friendly, convenient and portable solution to combat the problem of open defecation in slums. This toilet also saves water. The waste is collected in a biodegradable bag that contains “Chemisan”. It is a material which helps to deodorize and decompose the waste. This chemical also reduces the pathogens in human waste and are easily decomposed around the toilets by digging a small pit.
  3. Bhindeshwar Pathak’s Eco friendly Two Pit, Pour Flush Compost Toilet: Two pit holes are created around the toilet, one is functional and the other is kept closed until the opened pit is filled with human waste. The filled pit is then closed for composting, and the waste collected is then converted to bio fertilizers. The bio fertilizers made are high in nitrogen and phosphorous which helps in better irrigation. Dr Pathak installed these toilets in individual households as an alternative to the comparatively extensive sewerage septic tank based systems. This toilet technology has also been recommended as a Best Global practice by the UN.
  4. LIXIL SaTo (Safe Toilet) Pan: The SaTo pan is a cheap innovation designed for poor households and is supported by the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. The SaTo pan model uses a simple trap door design that forms a water seal at the bottom of a pan set into a cement slab over the pit. The water seal reduces transmission of disease by insects, reduces odor and reduces the volume of water needed to flush.Each product in the SATO series is designed to suit the needs and preferences of users in different areas. Certain models are tailored for areas where concrete is not widely used in the construction of toilets, while another is intended for places where a seat is culturally preferred to a squat toilet. More than 1 million units are already in use around the world, benefitting about 5 million people through their simple yet powerful designs.
  1. Garv Stainless Steel Public Toilet Infrastructure: Indestructible and smart stainless steel smart toilet was launched in September 2016 is a comprehensive and sustainable solution to end open defecation in rural India. This model uses stainless steel for the superstructure, toilet pan, washbasin, and making the units vandal-proof and easy to clean. Though this toilet has six models catering to unique needs. For instance, “Toilets for her” include a sanitary pad vending machine with sanitary pad incinerators. Another model, suited for areas without sewerage connections, is equipped with bio-digesters, that process the fecal matter through bacterial action. The only output is an odorless, colorless liquid that can be used as a pesticide spray later.

Sanitation transforms lives. Today, more than half of the population in rural areas defecate in the open without even having access to toilets and hand washing facilities, thereby causing diseases like cholera and other WASH related diseases. Improved sanitation, hygiene and having safe water will save millions of lives. This will in-turn accelerate the economic growth of our country, enhancing people’s dignity and creating a better future for all.

Sources:

Why Sanitation and Hygiene? (n.d.). Retrieved August 01, 2017, from http://wsscc.org/why-sanitation-and-hygiene/

Global Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene (WASH). (2015, December 17). Retrieved August 01, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/sanitation/index.html

5 Innovative Toilets That Can Change The Face Of Sanitation In India | Features. (2016, November 30). Retrieved August 01, 2017, from http://swachhindia.ndtv.com/5-innovative-toilets-can-change-face-sanitation-india-4153/
Global Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene (WASH). (2015, December 17). Retrieved August 01, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/sanitation/sanitation-emergency-response.html

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