An Alternative Scheme for Sanitation

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For several decades the government along with several private organizations have been working to solve the acute sanitation problems in Bangladesh. Unfortunately though, their efforts have met with little success. Even today the overwhelming majority of the rural population is not fully aware about the necessity of hygienic and healthy sanitation practices. Experts believe that only for unhealthy sanitation system a large number of children die because of diarrhea every year including aged people which is much more than death from AIDS, Malaria and Measles.
In such a situation, some enterprising students from Dhaka University (DU) found an idea for healthy sanitation system for which people can ensure their sound health and it could be an earning source too. They titled their project as ‘Toilet+’ project which is slightly customized from the ‘Ecosun’ toilet project made by Japan Agency of Drainage and Environment (JADE), and which can also be conducted with petite cost comparatively than JADE’s project.

The team consists of three members Anjali Sarker, Mahbubur Rahman Turza and Imran Shikdar who are students at the Institute Of Business Administration at DU. They are now working in Baria, Gazipur and Satkhira as from here soon they will start their pilot project and later they expect to expand this project Toilet+ in 70 villages after 10 years.

Toilet+ project have already won the champion award with an amount of US $ 15000 and the Grant Bartlett Sustainability Award at Queen’s Entrepreneurships’ Competition (QEC) 2012 held in Toronto, Canada from among 16 finalist teams representing 14 universities from different countries.

But due to lack of government approval this project still could not be launched and without motivating people about the project they cannot do anything in their pilot project areas.

If the project will be approved and launched, “Toilet+ project can bring out a radical change in the terms of sanitation in our country. Not only for the condition of sanitation if this project will start in the rural part of our country it can be a great step for starting of waste management system in rural area which can change the whole picture of our countries waste management problems. It can also alter the living standard of rural people.” says Anjali.

They believe that from this project the rural people could get a hygienic, longer- lasting and flood disaster resistant toilet, which promised to be both socially responsible and economically viable.

“Our main target is to provide rural people safe and hygienic sanitation for which around two-third rural children died every year. This toilet system is also flood resistant and can recycle the whole wastes created from human” says Turza.

According to their survey about two third children of rural area of Bangladesh die only for the Diarrhea. The enthusiastic students’ team believes that many children’s life from Diarrhea and others diseases caused by human waste like urine, feces and other wastes, can be saved by this project.
Turza says, “A one year old child is affected by Diarrhea when the surrounding environment of that child is not protected by waste management. If we can inspire them to use our own made toilet, we assure that the rate of diarrhea death must be reduced automatically.”

Turza further says, “It is seen that our villagers have a tendency to discontinue the use of sanitary toilets although there are many NGOs working in the villages to provide them sanitation system and also make the villagers aware of using sanitary toilets. So we make the scheme of Toilet+ project with an economic motivation where we encourage people to use sanitary toilet with an option to earn some money by selling the waste created in their household.”

According to their project plan which is diagramed from JADE’s project, the Ecosun toilet project needs cemented wall and roofs while Toilet+ team designed a lighter roof and wall that can be built with bamboo or any available material. This toilet models can also decompose and store human waste.

A toilet for one household costs about US $110 what they have to pay within two years by monthly installment. When a household family will apply for the loan, Toilet+ will finance the money and built a toilet in their home. After they starting to use this toilet, Toilet + will collect the urine and organic wastes which is the sum of household disposal with an interval of one month and the feces every six month after decomposing water with it. After collecting these they carry the wastes to waste processing plant and convert these into organic fertilizer.

According to Toilet+ team survey, Approximately 27 kg household disposal created every month from a household where 82 kg feces are created every year.

“We plan to provide the rural people micro-credit loan to make this toilet because this is very expensive for the villagers. So they have to form in a group of 18 households to take the loan. They have to pay their monthly installment by selling urine, feces and household wastes stored in their toilet. They have to pay only US $1.20 from their own income which is their monthly expenditure for their children diseases. Sometimes it cost more than US $1.20” Turza says.

After collecting organic wastes, “Export based agro firm in our country can buy the organic feature and then they can use those in their particular sector of farming for producing different types of crops, fruits, vegetables which have great value in world market” he adds.

“Now at this moment we are just trying to make the rural people aware about our Toilet + project which can inspire them to become aware about waste management system and using this Toilet + they can be benefitted economically also. We want to collect the whole wastes created from a household which can make organic fertilizer after recycling” says Anjali.

“Organic fertilizer and the crops, fruits made by this fertilizer have a great market value around the world. Because there is no other chemical added to make the fertilizer and producing the crops or fruits. People prefer to take the products free of chemical fertilizer” she adds.

“In Washington of USA while I visited, I saw same types of fruits sold in different prices at adjoining departmental stores only for the quality. First shop sells the fruits for US $ 0.50- 0.80 while adjacent shop sells the fruits for US $1.00-1.50. First shop sells inorganic fruits which contains chemical and it looks very eye-catching while other sells organic fruits which is not very attractive like the inorganic fruits” Turza shares his experience in USA.

According to Md.Arfan ali, assistant professor of department of Horticulture, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural university, “Organic fertilizer is made of cow dung, poultry wastes, human wastes or any other natural wastes which has no chemical or pesticides like inorganic fertilizer. Inorganic fertilizer farming contains too much nitrogen which can harm the people health who takes it as their foodstuff while if we think about organic fertilizer farming the amount of nitrogen here is a small amount.”

“So if we can eat the organic farming foodstuff that will be very good for us because for the lacking of organic farming crops, fruits, vegetables every moment we take poison as our food. People will take happily the organic farming foodstuff whatever the cost is. It is proved that organic foodstuff have a great value not only in our country as well as all over the world” he adds.

While talking with Tofayel Ahmed, deputy country representative of JADE, he says, “We have worked in 23 villages of 7 districts. Without some geographical variation the feedback of using this toilet project is very good where the maximum users are agriculture based family. The using of this toilet does not bring any environmental pollution or health hazard like the conventional toilet.”

“We live in Dhaka city. In this large city there is only one treatment plant for dispose of wastes. 20% of these wastes can be disposed into the treatment plant rest of 80% goes to river or any other water body which cause serious pollution to environment as well as to our health” he adds.

As it is a tough job for them to expand this Toilet + project among 68000 villages of Bangladesh they look forward to the government taking this project as roll model of sanitation.

“Using deep tube-well awareness does not come in a day. So this Toilet+ project can be the better option for safe sanitation in our country. If the Government will come forward to help us we can easily run our project in the rural part of our country. We believe one day there will be no sanitation problem persist in our country and no children die for diarrhea” Anjali concludes.

This article is published in Weekend Independent of The Independent newspaper

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