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Need For A Sustainable Solution That Addresses Rural Sanitation Challenges: Priyanka Tanwar, LIXIL
There is a direct relationship between safe sanitation and the health of a person. Several studies have showcased that lack of access to toilets and clean water impacts the health of people in their formative age
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
Sustainable Development Goal number 6, on the provision of clean water and sanitation, has cross-cutting effects on all aspects of sustainability and is something which is of concern to India, given that a large section of the population still does not have access to effective sanitation. In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Priyanka Tanwar, Head of Public Affairs & Corporate Communications- Asia Pacific, LIXIL, discusses innovative solutions to sanitation, by SATO, and why it is critical to address sanitation issues which affect health and well-being.
Your video on safe sanitation for women mentions that India contributes up to 60% of the world population without proper sanitation practices. According to you, what are the health concerns associated with open defecation and how is it affecting the country on a macro level?
There is a direct relationship between safe sanitation and the health of a person. Several studies have showcased that lack of access to toilets and clean water impacts the health of people in their formative age. For example, lack of clean toilets can cause diseases like diarrhoea that claims the lives of about 60,700 children under five years each year in India.
Children weakened by frequent episodes of diarrhoea become vulnerable to health challenges like malnutrition, stunting and infections like pneumonia.
Poor health can further trap people into poverty, making it difficult for them to receive education or work to support their families. Treatment for sanitation-related diseases, whether provided by the state or paid for by the individual takes money out of the economy that could otherwise have been spent differently.
How is SATO working towards addressing the environmental and social cost attached with Open Defecation in India?
The available toilet solutions in India, especially the ones currently being used in rural areas, face multiple challenges. These include the high water usage, frequent clogging, early filling of toilet pits, bad odour and risk of infections among others. A technology that fails to address these challenges would fail in convincing people to install and use toilets.
SATO, through its innovative technology, reduces water consumption by approximately 80 percent per flush. This encourages every member of the family to use toilets since it reduces their dependence on the supply of water, especially in dry regions.
SATO’s self-closing trap-door mechanism eliminates the P-trap used in traditional toilets. This mechanism helps in minimizing odour and blocking the passage of disease-carrying insects, thus making the toilets safer and more pleasant to use.
The SATO toilet system also allows twin pit latrines to be constructed in a “V” configuration by eliminating the problematic “Y” junction box. Unlike the traditional twin pit latrines, SATO technology allows the pipes to be laid out in straight lines, essentially eliminating the possibility of clogging. This encourages people to use toilets without any worry of overflowing and clogging of the junction box. Therefore not requiring manual labour to clean it.
SATO’s connecting system houses an internal bucket. This makes pit-switching a simple job for any member of the family. Thereby, there is no dependence on an external person for pit switching once the first pit gets filled.
What are the prospects of SATO’s collaboration with the Swachh Bharat Mission? In what capacity will SATO contribute in the collaboration, given a future collaboration between SBM and SATO take place?
It is encouraging to see that the government is running such a large scale behavioral change campaign to improve people’s access to sanitation through the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. However, there is a need for a sustainable solution that addresses the challenges of the current toilet systems in rural India.
We, at SATO, provide a sustainable solution by addressing the challenges of high water usage, frequent clogging and many more. In fact, SATO has been recommended by the Government of India’s Dr. Mashelkar Committee on sanitation as a water saving technology.
SATO has been launched in multiple states across the nation. How has SATO contributed to the progress of SBM in the states where SATO has been launched in?
SATO is a part of LIXIL that aims to improve the livelihood of 100 million people through sanitation and hygiene solutions by 2020.
Currently, SATO toilets are being used by over 30,000 families across states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Maharashtra. By providing a reliable, hygienic and an affordable toilet solution, SATO has been successful in encouraging people to use toilets.
SATO is also experimenting with multiple community engagement activities like the training of women masons, collaborating with community leaders among others. These activities are aimed at increasing the demand for toilets and also creating a community that understands the correct process of installation of toilets so that technical failures do not result in mistrust among people.