Shri, a social enterprise in India, is building public toilets in rural areas without such facilities and using the waste to help pay for their upkeep, the BBC reported
Shri, a social enterprise in India, is building public toilets in rural areas without such facilities and using the waste to help pay for their upkeep, the BBC has reported.
Prabin Kumar and Chandan Kumar met Canadian-born engineer Anoop Jain in 2010.
Together they founded the Shri enterprise and within four years had built their first community toilet in the village of Nemua in the Supaul district of Bihar state, north east India.
There were eight toilets for men and eight for women, and all facilities built are free for communities to use.
Many existing state-run toilets, apart from being few and far between, have faced problems in clearing the waste and paying for the facilities’ maintenance.
Shri toilets channel natural waste into a biodigester, which then provides electricity to power a pump for ground water.
This is fed through a filtration process on site and the filtered water is bottled and sold for half a rupee (US$0.13) per litre.
This money pays for the upkeep of the facilities.
Shri currently sells 3,000 litres a day.
The toilets open at 4:00 am and close at 10:00 am, and the three founders say that each of the blocks they have now built in five villages are used roughly 800 times a day.
They estimate that each project has a start-up cost of approximately $30,000, but filtered water sales cover this spend once built.
The social entrepreneurs choose villages where there is no government facility and run an awareness campaign for villagers before building commences.
This is because there are often cultural barriers to people changing their sanitation habits, not just because they have not used a facility before.
India’s government has granted $20 billion for a health initiative to stop people having to defecate in the open by 2019.
More than half a billion people in rural India do not have access to toilets.
This leads to a range of health and social problems, including children missing out on school and women being assaulted, or fearing assault, when they go to relieve themselves in secluded areas.
Shri is one of a number of enterprises in India taking on the task of building sustainable toilets, coming up with inventive proposals to provide rural communities with safe and dignified hygiene facilities.