Saturday, February 25, 2012

My visit to the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation Headquarters in Delhi

Each morning, staff of the Sulabh Foundation gather for morning prayers. This particular morning, they had a special guest, ME!

Part of the congeration of the prayer. The ladies in blue are former human scanveners who had to collect human waste with their bare hands. Thanks to Sulabh Foundation, they no longet had to do this inhumane activity and are now getting free training in different economic activities

A group photo of members of Sulabh, students and staff of a Delhi College and of course MOI in the back

Sulabh Senoir Vice President Abha Bahadur explains the Foundation's twin pit technology to MOI

Sulabh Foundation has designed numerous models of the twin pit toilet to fit different sizes of the wallet

I am being given the technicailities of how the Sulabh toilet works. Unlike the conventional toilet, the Sulabh one has a steeper bowl such that it was only smaller quantities of water to flush meaning that millions or even billions of liter of water are saved

A water quality expert explains how the Sulabh Foundation has developed a technology that uses a water weed called duck weed to purity sewage water and at the same provides nutrients for fish. Fish when they feed on the weeds grow three times in size and are fit for human consumption

Buried under these beautiful flowers is a tank that is connected to the public toilet (not in the picture) and from it bio gas is generated after the gas passes through a number of processes 

This is the model of the bio gas technology that was designed by the Sulabh Foundation

After the human waste was been worked upon to extract the gas, effluent water remains and this is also passed through a number of processes to purify it. The end water comes out odourless and clear and though it is not suitable for human consumption, the nutrients in it is ideal for agriculture and horticulture and the secret behind the flourishing garden

AND THERE WAS LIGHT...Over 500 people use the public toilet located outside the premises of the foundation. The gas that is generated is was is lighting the mantle lamp. Imagine what this simple and very affordable technology can do to solve rural electrification and help developing countries meet their MDGs.

The bio gas is also ideal in heating during cold seasons

Using a combination of batteries and bio gas, the world would live in less darkness

Adjacent to the headquarters is a public school that is also run by the Sulabh Foundation. 60 percent of the students of the school are former human scavengers and the remaining 40 percent are from families that are too poor to afford school fees. Sulabh International provides free education to these students

The Sulabh Foundation is taking a holistic approach towards finding a sustainable solutiion to the sanitation and hygiene problems of India and other developing nations. It is for this reason that it has recently purchased a sanitary towel plant. At the moment they are in the familisation stage and are manufacturing towels for its students and staff. They plan to go big scale in a few months

This is a sanitary towel vending machine. Several thousands have been installed in a number of schools through a collaborative project between the government of India and Sulabh. Sanitation or the lack of it infringes more on women and girls for it doesn't only put them in danger of health but most importantly it denies them their basic human rights and their dignity

Being in the computer age, pupils of the public school are taught early how to use these gadgets and also the English language in order to know how to operate them 

The Sulabh campus over and above is a very inspiring place. To add icing on the cake, the foundation has a Toilet Museum. Mr Bageshwar Jha is its curator and believe me he is great at what he does. I am being briefed on the history of toilets

A toilet fit for kings! Mr Jha explained to me that during the olden days, this chair cum toilet was a great way for rulers to be close to their subjects in that they wouldn't have to be away from them when the need to answer the call of nature came.

The brain and engine behind the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak. Having read so much about him, it was indeed more than an honour to meet him in person. The foundation started in 1970 and has constructed 1.2 million pour flush toilets, constructed and maintained 7,500 public toilet cum bath complexes, built 200 human waste based biogas plants, has liberated more than a million human scavengers, made 640 towns scavenger free, trained 7000 scavengers, has four English medium schools and created employment for more than 30 million. Does he have to walk on water to prove he is a saint?

For the achievements that he has managed to pull over the years, this action should be reversed but I humbly bowed down and received it

Ooh I am almost blushing at this point, sweating buckets and my knees are knocking together like someone is tickling me with feathers on the soles of my feet

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