Where there are no latrines people resort to defecation in the open -UNEP Report. Unsafe methods to capture and treat human waste result in serious health problems and death – food and water tainted with pathogens from fecal matter results in huge number of deaths of children each year. Waterless toilet systems have been around for many hundred years. Where there is a civilization and housing structures, toilets are usually not far.
Most modern regions in the Western World are using water flush toilets connected to sewer and septic systems. Although, according to the United Nations, 2.5 Billion people worldwide still live without a toilet. Even in the Western World there are Millions of locations that would require a toilet, but are restricted due to the lack of water or the absence of sewage treatment systems. That’s where waterless toilet systems fill in the gap.
Water (Flush) latrines and sewerage systems require huge infrastructure and high maintenance costs. It’s an environment hazard if this system fails. Also, it requires water for the process which a scarce resource in the world.
There are many benefits of using hygienic dry sanitation system over the conventional sanitation system. The Dry-San Hygienic Rural Toilet is a waterless system where waste doesn’t have to be flushed. Prof Dr Kishore Munshi, senior professor and former dean of the Industrial Design Center at IIT-B, has developed the Dry San to reduce open defecation, improve hygiene, and help vulnerable sections including women and children.
“The project has been developed for rural India, targeting mainly the farming community with the basic premise that there is dearth of water in most rural areas. Thus, the flush toilet cannot be part of the solution. Therefore, an autonomous solution based on water-less or minimal water usage was invented,” said Prof Munshi.
Waterless toilet system, Dry-San designed by Prof Kishore Munshi at IIT-Bombay. (Image credit: Mid-Day/Sayed Sameer Abedi)
The cost of Dry-Sanitation system toilet usage is very- very low. It would be 35 paisa per person per day for a 6 person family and toilet) 7 paisa per/ person per day for public toilet for 30 persons.
The Dry-San has been developed after garnering financial support from the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, along with CTech, an IIT-B incubated designed company. It comes in various dimensions, along with an easy manual. While work on the project started in 2011, the final product was ready by 2014. For starters, a design was put in place, which is not only easy to build but maintain too. “In the conventional water-based sanitation system, there is heavy use of water to maintain the water-trap and for flushing requirements.
Benefits of using Hygienic Dry Sanitation System
- Eliminates the spread of diseases by treating excreta and other waste, converting this waste into a valuable resource; and avoiding contamination of water and food.
- Composted human excreta and urine could be utilized as organic fertilizers which completes the human nutrient cycle by enriching the farming soil with nutrients. Also eliminates or reduces the need to buy industrial fertilizers.
- Avoids Contamination of scarce water resources.
- Helps save water for other purposes – drinking, washing, cleaning etc.
The Dry-San converts waste material, which otherwise pollutes land and water bodies, into a resource (fertilizer from urine and manure from solid waste) for the farmer. The conversion is done by non-chemical and natural aerobic decomposition, facilitated by a patented design. Another highlight that sets this design apart from others is that, while in septic tanks, there are chances of poisonous gases leading to explosions, there are no gases formed in Dry San’s underground pit. Water is seeped into the soil and only solid waste remains, which eventually decomposes.
“If a family of five uses this toilet every day, they can open the pit once in eight or 10 years to clean the decomposed waste, which can easily be used as fertilizer,” added Prof Munshi. While there have been various sanitation projects introduced by the government, most have lacked maintenance.
“During an all-India survey, we found out that most public toilets use ceramic tiles, which eventually give away and make the toilet unusable. Instead, our design uses stainless steel — easy to use and maintain,” he said. In septic tanks, there are chances of poisonous gases leading to explosions, there are no gases formed in Dry San’s underground pit. Water is seeped into the soil and only solid waste remains, which eventually decomposes.
Building one Dry-San toilet from scratch can cost up to Rs 70,000, including labour cost. This cost can be reduced if they are built in bulk. One of the first such units was placed at a labour camp next to the IIT-B campus, where labourers have been using it. “The workers decided that this particular cubicle will be used only by women and children. After a year, it’s still functioning well. BMC authorities have also touched base with us to place such toilets in slums that are not accessible to the main drainage system of the city,” he said.
“Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is one of greatest social awareness programme ever devised in India for social regeneration. This initiative has the potential to transform India and change the mindset of the people to become more responsible and responsive to health and hygiene issues. It has also the potential to bring about asthetic transformation – Swachhta ke Saath Sunderta Bhi Aayegi. May be Sunder Bharat Abhiyan an should become part of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. It will get more teeth.”, Prof Munshi said.