The ECOSAN toilets in Sundarbans are converting excreta into organic manures.
The newly-introduced ECOSAN toilets in the remote islands of Sundarbans are not only providing a hygienic sanitary option to villagers, but are also converting excreta into organic manures.
With technical and financial support from NGOs, Alpona Gayen of Durbachoti Gram Panchayat in Patharpratima block motivated women folk in her village to install these innovative toilets.
These toilets comprise of closed enclosure on a raised platform above two chambers, one in use and one composting that stores excreta.
“It takes roughly five months for pathogen free compost to be produced. To help prevent offensive smell in the toilet, urine diversion is introduced whereby feces and urine are not allowed to mix, as a chemical reaction between the two creates odour,” says sanitation expert Jyotirmoy Chakraborty.
The diverted urine is taken to a separate chamber that is used to nourish soils for crop growth while the excreta is used similarly as an organic manure later on after it gets decomposed automatically.
The idea of these ECOSAN toilets was initiated by international NGO Save the Children and implemented by the Sundarban Social Development Centre.
Moreover, only about a litre of water is needed for ablution in ECOSAN compost toilet as against 4 to 5 litres in the conventional toilets.
Farmers recall how after the 2009 Aila cyclone the traditional toilets were rendered dysfunctional as the entire village went under water.
“There was a massive outbreak of water-borne diseases during that time. Water was contaminated due to these pit toilets,” says Prof Barun Kanjilal of Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR).
Even now most of the villagers either defecate in the open or use leech pit toilets.
Dr Samiran Panda of the city-based National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) warns that in the Sundarbans where floods are common, both options are risky.
According to India Human Development Report 2011 about half of Indian households lack access to sanitation facilities resulting in outbreak of diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid and other water-borne diseases.PTI