Sanitation and Health Rights India

ORGANIZATION NAME: Sanitation and Health Rights India (SHRI)


SUMMARY: Sanitation and Health Rights in India (SHRI) fights alongside rural communities in India to end open defecation, a key step in the struggle for health equity, and social and economic justice.

PROBLEM SPACE: "Over 600 million people in India are forced to defecate in the open because they have no toilet. This causes the spread of diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, and infectious hepatitis that kill an estimated 300,000 children under the age of five every year. These illnesses also impair physical and cognitive development, thus stifling long-term educational and economic outcomes. The total annual health-related cost associated with this morbidity and mortality is $38 billion. Urban and rural households in the lowest income quintile bear the highest per capita loss, spending $37.5 and $22 respectively, significant portions of their annual income. This diminishes their capacity to invest in other essential service, such as education and food. Furthermore, women and girls who lack convenient access to toilets often miss school and work while they are menstruating. Thus inadequate access to toilets cripples health, economic, and social outcomes in India. SHRI fights to end open defecation by improving access to toilets as a means to ensure health equity, and social and economic justice.

The Indian government is currently trying to end open defecation (OD) by reimbursing families who build a toilet up to $180. However, this does not account for indigent rural populations. In the state of Bihar for example, the annual per capita income is $428, and is lower in rural Bihar, where over 92 million of the stateäó»s 104 million people live. Over 75% of these people defecate outside. Poverty prevents families from affording the upfront costs of building a toilet, or even owning land upon which they can construct one. OD persists even when families receive this government support. One study shows that the majority of government-funded toilets remain unused. Pit latrines, the government's recommended technology, must be emptied when full. Tankers are often cost prohibitive and manual scavenging (cleaning out pits manually) has rightfully been outlawed, leaving families the only option of doing it themselves. However, social stigma associated with handling human excrement, perpetuated by India's caste system, deters families from doing so. The combination of these systemic failures perpetuate OD.

SHRI addresses poverty and land constraints by constructing community toilet blocks that are free to use while eliminating the need for toilet pit emptying at the household level."

SOLUTION: "SHRI constructs community toilet facilities that are free to use that include eight toilets for women, eight for men, hand-washing stations, and a biogas digester (a large underground tank). Human excreta is stored in the biogas tank where it decomposes to form methane gas. This energy source powers a generator that produces electricity, which powers a water filtration plant that uses a patented resin filter to remove arsenic, fluoride, iron, and bacterial contaminants. The resulting potable water is sold for $0.008 per liter, less than half the current market cost, allowing SHRI to generate enough revenue to offset its monthly facility O&M costs. This ensures facility cleanliness, a key predictor of sustained toilet use.

SHRI currently operates five facilities, each of which cost $30,000 to build. Each facility is designed to improve access to toilets and potable water for 1,500 people. This is $24,000 cheaper than what it costs the government to build individual household toilets for the same number of people, without expanding access to clean drinking water or providing for maintenance. Thus SHRI's model improves access to toilets and potable water - another essential service - while ensuring the long-term sustainability of its facilities."

CONTACT: Anoop Jain, [email protected]