In 2016, 50% of people in India were defaecating in the open. Swachh Bharat (clean India) is a national programme designed to improve sanitation in India. The programme aims for India to be ‘open defaecation free’ by 2nd October 2019. Since its launch in October 2014, Swachh Bharat has increased the number of households with access to toilets by 20% (May 2017) and is set to continue apace. The programme is promoting ‘sanitary latrine’ technologies that ‘safely confine human faeces and eliminates the need of human handling before it is fully decomposed’.
In many places, the toilets being constructed are of the single pit latrine type, which in all likelihood will require the services of manual scavengers to empty.
One dignified sanitation option is ‘simplified sewerage’: i.e. household toilets – linked to simplified (piped) sewerage – treated in a large settlement tank – waste water discharged into a constructed wetland. A system like this would be cheap to install, easy to maintain and remove the need for the manual handling of faeces or sludge. This technology is widely used in other countries (especially in South America) and has proved to be highly effective.
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Heriot Watt University has recently published this paper on simplified sewerage systems (dignified sanitation) for small low-income communities in India. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development published the work in November 2017.