This ingenious toilet system in Ladakh could help India reach complete sanitation by 2022
Besides its natural beauty, Ladakh holds unearthed treasure and one of that is an unlikely solution to India’s biggest struggles with sanitation.
My first introduction to a ‘’dry toilet” happened on the way to
Expecting the worst, I entered this cottage only to find a hole in the middle of a cemented floor. I looked down to check if it was indeed a toilet but locals reassured me that it is a waterless solution to Ladakh’s sanitation issues.
As a tourist who’s travelled to many places in India, public toilets are reminiscent of horror stories featuring unbearable stench, flies and varying standards of unhygienic conditions.I was pleasantly surprised that this seemingly suspicious hut was not only clean but odorless.
A dry-composting toilet doesn’t use water to take the excrement somewhere else. Instead, it allows natural processes to breakdown waste to produce organic
The toilet is an ingenious two-storied system with the toilet on the top layer and the composting unit underneath.
After using the toilet, people are ideally advised to use a shovel to throw dirt down the hole, not just to cover the odour but also to accelerate the composting process.
The villagers ensure that the compost is regularly tended to ensure that the area remains hygienic.
Once the compost gets ready, it is used for agriculture which serves the area twofold.
This system might seem strange to people who have grown up with flush-toilets but for many regions in India where ‘Swachh Bharat’ has not yet reached the loo, this system can prove to be cost-effective in more than one way.
The dry-compost toilet saves water and electricity in regions where there is a scarcity. It also eliminates the need for sewage treatment plants, an elaborate sewer network, and the expenses on regular maintenance and operations of these systems.
It can be especially useful in extreme areas of the country; in deserts, where water scarcity necessitates frugal use of water; in rocky areas, where it is not possible to dig for pits and sewers; in coastal and flooded areas, with very high water tables; in earthquake prone zones, as there is no danger of sewage leaking through cracked sewer lines or pits.
In an effort to address the absence of adequate sanitation to approx. 600 million Indians, the Indian government has set the target of 100% sanitation by 2022 and is working towards boosting cleanliness and end the practice of open defecation in the country. This simple solution could help solve many problems at once, as the country and the planet struggle to manage the defect in defecation.