120,000 Tons of Fecal Sludge: Why India Needs a Market for Human Waste

This article was originally published by the World Economic Forum.

By Sharmishta Sivaramakrishnan, Community Specialist, Young Global Leaders – Asia, World Economic Forum Geneva


India’s urban areas produce 120,000 tonnes of faecal sludge on a daily basis, but an estimated two-thirds of the country’s households with toilets aren’t connected to the sewer system. As such, according to the Centre for Science and Environment, 60% of this human waste is dumped in open water and on open land – contaminating drinking water and harming other food sources.

Much of the sanitation conversation has focused on practices like open defecation or the absence of functioning toilets, but we need to recognize the complicated and necessary value chain that drives the sanitation system. Specifically, we need to move from a discussion that is purely focused on the generation of faecal sludge to one that acknowledges how containment, disposal and end-use are equally, if not more, necessary.

Facing the challenges to a healthy and sustainable sanitation system

Current sanitation services are not keeping up with the amount of faecal sludge generated in Indian cities. Private actors are responding and attempting to fill this capacity gap, but they are left largely unmonitored, resulting in irregular and illegal dumping of waste.

Read more here.

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