Community Toilet Block Projects
As part of the community toilet block project, we identified the key factors that limit the effectiveness and sustainability of community toilets as a sanitation solution. This arose from an identification of the following reasons why the community toilets in Pune and Sangli-Miraj were in a poor condition and were largely unused by their beneficiary communities:
- It was observed that most urban local bodies provided community toilet blocks as the only solution to address the sanitation needs of the informal community, as they lacked real time data to deliver appropriate solutions.
- Our citywide surveys of slums in Sangli in 2001 revealed that 77 out of 98 slums had no access to basic sanitation and were largely defecating in the open.
- Till the early 2000s, despite the extensive sewage network across the city the majority (70%) of slums were not connected to the service. Therefore the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) used stand-alone aqua-privy tanks, which cracked easily and frequently allowed raw sewage to leak out over the surrounding areas.
- Once the area was soiled, the communities began to dump household waste, which attracted flies, mosquitoes, and pigs and reduced the sanitary condition of the settlement.
- The community toilets had no provision for children, resulting in increasing open defecation in and around the communities. This practice made the outspread of diseases like diarrhea extremely common.
- The ULB’s continue to bear the financial and maintenance burden of community toilets every year, where large budgetary allocations are made just for their upkeep. In short, this is an ineffective and unsustainable endeavour which is high on capex (capital expenditure) and maintenance cost.
We have successfully implemented innovative sanitation projects in the cities of Pune and Sangli-Miraj. The community toilets in Sangli-Miraj included accommodation for a caretaker and a biogas system. The biogas system converts the gases generated by human excreta into a fuel source for the caretaker whose cooking needs were completely satisfied. SA’s community toilets linked to biogas and built over a decade ago are still functioning well today.