It has been three years since India launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) to achieve the ambitious target of an Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2019.
The Government has been doing its bit to meet the target but there are two very critical aspects that require intervention to achieve the goal.
- First, relates to software, i.e. changing people’s mindset to use toilets.
- Second, relates to hardware i.e. to ensure that people have access to the right products and technologies that make toilet-use easy and safe.
While most campaigns do address the software aspect, they often fail to understand the importance of hardware.
India has made great strides towards changing mindset around hygiene and sanitation. But when it comes to hardware, Twin Pit-Pour Flush (TPPF) latrines are the most preferred toilets, as also recommended by SBA, in rural areas where no sewer system exists.
Significance of TPPF –
- They provide safe and sustainable sanitation when constructed properly, used and maintained.
- Alternating use of pits every one to three years allows for natural degradation and composting of waste inside the resting pit.
However, there are several challenges with TPPF latrines.
- Water usage – The first challenge is around water usage. Traditional TPPF toilets are equipped with a P-trap mechanism that creates a water seal between the pot and the waste outlet. This P-trap requires high amounts of flush water to push away the waste from the pot to the pit. It leads to high water usage (difficult to adapt in water scarce regions) and increased risk of groundwater contamination (due to increased water content in sludge).
- Design – The second challenge is related to the design and the use of standard junction box, which is used to divert waste between two pits, which frequently becomes clogged due to poor craftsmanship or poor layout of pit locations. A dysfunctional junction box is one of the main barriers preventing the acceptance of TPPF latrines by residents in India’s rural communities. Moreover, the junction box requires periodic cleaning and external support for pit switching. This work is not only dirty, but the service can be generally expensive and difficult to find in villages.
With SBA, new technological innovations are starting to appear in the market. They are the only way to offer effective, sustainable solutions to these user pain points. Technologies exist today that are affordable, effective, and reliable. One such type is called the V-TRAP system that addresses these two challenges squarely on the head.
India is the torch bearer for making the world open defecation free and must show the world that this is achievable not only in terms of numbers of toilets built but in the true sense of ODF in prolonged and sustainable toilet use amongst all people. Innovations play a crucial role in this.