120,000 tonnes of faecal sludge: why India needs a market for human waste

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.

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