One thing they don’t tell you before you get to India: the place doesn’t have nearly enough toilets.
I was walking this week in central Bangalore, and a girl, probably eight or nine years old, stopped in front of me, flipped up her skirt and started peeing on the sidewalk. The scene wasn’t uncommon. More than half of Indians don’t have access to toilets. At all. That’s hundreds of millions of people who never use a toilet.
Imagine if half of America had no access to toilets.
One man who gives a crap about the situation is India’s minister of rural development, Jairam Ramesh. Ramesh this week launched a partnership with India’s Defense Research and Development Organization to bring waterless toilets to the Indian countryside.
He pointed to last month’s Agni ballistic missile test to say that missiles don’t matter if India doesn’t have enough toilets.
“Nearly 60 percent of the people in the world who defecate in the open belong to India. Even countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan have better records. We should be ashamed of this,” Ramesh said, according to The Indian Express, a Mumbai newspaper.
The waterless toilet holds real promise because toilets require plumbing, wastewater treatment plants and other expensive infrastructure. The toilets are called “Eco-Friendly Loos,” or ELOOs.
Another Indian paper, the New Indian Express, said ELOOs are based on a “bio-digester” technology that turns human waste into water appropriate for irrigation and gas that can be used for cooking or energy. It was originally developed by to help Indian soldiers stationed at high altitudes. “The ELOOs can effectively function in extreme conditions and temperature ranging from – 6 degree C to 50 degree C,” the paper said.
The program to put ELOOs in parts of rural India kicks off in July. You can read more about it in the article below.