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Human excreta are considered as one of the filthiest and most problematic aspects of waste disposal. Urban India is struggling with it and majority of the urban human excreta are disposed of in the water bodies with minimal or without proper treatment, contaminating the water bodies with dangerous pathogens. Similar is the case with our rural areas which gets even lesser attention from the policy makers and implementers. And unfortunately, this is true for all conventional toilet designs; leave aside the social and environmental issues associated with open defecation.

“Sanitation is more important than independence”

-Mahatma Gandhi

Sanitation, the topic that is often neglected and shrouded in taboos:

November 19th has been declared as the ‘World Toilet Day’, to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. Farmers of Bihar’s Living Soils Model village, Kedia are transforming the poo into a profitable endeavor. How? They are using Faydemand Shauchalay (Profitable Toilets) using Swachh Bharat Abhiyan grants.

Graphical representation of ecological sanitation toilet model

It is a variant of ecological sanitation toilets which segregates human urine, feces and wash water at source. The urine is used as a fertilizer supplement while the feces are composted for making high quality soil conditioner. The wash water, after treatment, is used for watering non-fruit plants and trees.

Assuming that you already know, in this blog entry, neither will I be mentioning other benefits of open defecation free communities nor will I touch upon the economic implications of the open defecation related ailments.

Picture of Ecosan Toilet

The positive effect of using urine is that the phosphorous is in a plant usable form, requiring no additional processing before it can be absorbed.

Some interesting statistics:

  • Did you know, a family of four can produce the equivalent of a 50kg bag of NPK fertilizer from urine alone every year?
  • Kedia farmers are saving quite a lot just by replacing the chemicals by human urine
  • A 50 kg bag of compost can cost between Rs. 400 and Rs. 1000. And poo collected from a family of six produces at least nine such bags every six months.

You can also help farmers in adopting ecological ways of not only producing food for you but managing their waste in a way they become profitable. You can ask the government to invest in Faydemand Shauchalay or ecological sanitation toilets.

Starting today, November 20th, join us for Jeevit Maati Kisan Yatra as our farmers embark on a journey to spread the idea of ecological agriculture across 9 districts in Bihar to sow the seeds of the Kedia Living Soils Model. Follow the hashtag  for updates!

Ishteyaque Ahmed is a Senior Food for Life Campaigner at Greenpeace India