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| Last Updated:17/04/2014

Latest News(Archive)

Latest News

10 toilet designs that can actually work in rural India, 27 February 2014


A recent New York Times op-ed piece creatively titled “Bill Gates can’t build a toilet” by environmentalist and founder of Toilets For People, Jason Kass, says this about the Gates Foundation project to build toilets in rural areas: “the Gates Foundation has treated the quest to find the proper solution as it would a cutting-edge project at Microsoft: lots of bells and whistles, sky-high budgets and engineers in elite institutions experimenting with the newest technologies, thousands of miles away from their clients.” Rural sanitation is more than just building a toilet, but even that first step can be ineffective if it does not take into account relevant factors.


The Government of India spends 7000 crores a year just to build toilets, but it is true that the toilets commissioned to be built scarcely take into account the local conditions or cultures, are unaffordable despite the subsidy and often fall into disuse. Toilet designs need to factor in several conditions – from geography to water and culture – for them to be usable and viable. An India Water Portal study, for example, points to the fact that even popular low-cost toilets like pit latrines could lead to adverse environmental impact besides propagating manual scavenging, a human rights battle India has been fighting for over 5 decades.


Gramalaya has been constructing toilets in rural India for over 2 and a half decades now and lists the following conditions as factors to be taken into account for toilets to become household and community-friendly: