SDG
UNLEASH

Solution catalogue

EcoLotus

Open defecation in India is an environmental, sanitation, and women’s safety problem. 80% of worldwide defecation is done by 600 million people in India. A solution here could be scaled and greatly reduce the prevalence of open defecation worldwide. Our solution helps local entrepreneurs to build sanitary and secure toilets for women. Waste will generate biogas, fertilizer, and clean water. This solution will create jobs, improve sanitation, and reduce sexual assaults against women.

Problem

Surface water and groundwater is compromised in developing countries where open defecation is widely practiced due to cultural norms and a lack of sanitation facilities.

Open defecation is a direct cause of waterborne disease and a decline in an environment‘s biological health.

Further, the practice poses significant personal safety concerns for women and girls as the practice makes them more vulnerable to sexual assault, prone to urinary tract health issues, and diminishes their dignity as they lack privacy during menstruation periods and have no sanitary waste disposal options.

More than one billion people – nearly 20% of the global population – defecate in the open; 80% of those people, or more than 600 million, live in India.

While numerous measures have been taken to address the practice of open defecation in India, most measures have failed because of culturally insensitive sanitation facilities, inappropriate construction materials, and a lack of incentive to adopt change.

Solution

The solution addresses cultural and religious limitations of defecation, which currently hold back the use of toilets. It begins with partnering with local entrepreneurs to build communal toilets that are open to the air and have attendants to provide a secure place and attractive facility for women and men.

Waste will be collected from the facilities regularly in exchange for water, that can be used at the facility for rinsing or for drinking. Feces will be processed to produce biogas and fertilizer. The urine will be purified to produce a fertilizer and the clean water, to be returned to the facilities.

This solution will help to provide economic empowerment to the local community by creating jobs for operating the facility. This is projected to reduce open defecation and sexual assault against women; indirect benefits will include the prevention of further ground- and surface water fecal contamination and the production of a sustainable source of energy and fertilizer.

Innovation

The problem of open defecation in India has been addressed by a vast number of organisations, however, the majority of the toilets that have been provided are not being utilised for their intended purposes.

This is because these toilets are either attached to the main household or are built close to the living premises which are considered clean and pure, whereas toilets are seen as „unclean“. As a result, the locals do not utilise these toilets.

Our solution is unique in that we will provide toilets in the area already used for open defecation, away from the living areas. And the human waste will be used to produce biogas which is currently largely produced from dairy cattle waste.

The toilet area design will also promote the safety of women and children. Furthermore, we will partner with local entrepreneurs in offering franchising opportunities that empower locals.

Impact

By collecting the urine and fecal waste from toilets provided to women in informal settlements in India, and delivering that waste to a biogas facility for energy conversion, water purification, and fertilizer production, EcoLotus will tackle four of the Sustainable Development Goals.

EcoLotus will address elements of SDG 6 by reducing water pollution, promoting wastewater treatment, and offering a potable water supply.

SDG 3 will be addressed through the reduction of waterborne diseases and other health risks associated with a lack of proper sanitation, as well as a decline in the mortality rate attributable to untreated wastewater.

SDG 7 will be addressed as EcoLotus supports the production of a renewable energy product.

SDG 5 will be addressed by improving the safety of women and girls in the public sphere and reducing the number of women and girls subjected to sexual violence.

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