During 2006, 665 million Indians conducted their excretory needs in the open; polluting water bodies near their dwellings. This means that rivers and other water bodies get overfed with pollutants and other pathogens. By multiplying the yearly production of feaces (50 kg) and urine (500 liter) per person the scale of the sanitary waste that reaches rivers and streams is a Himalayan one.
Additionally, the lack of sanitary facilities are particularly acute for women.
Women are a particularly vulnerable group. Due to cultural modesty they are unable to relieve themselves in the open. They can only do so under the cover of darkness – in the early morning or the late night. They suffer the risk of rape due to distant toilet visits, so they hold on all day which also leads to urinary tract infections – which untreated, can reach the kidneys and cause serious illness. This is particularly a problem during pregnancy. A lack of toilet facilities also contributes to not having the possibility to engage in daily work freely. The woman gets dependent on her husband for support – inequality. Equality comes as number three of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. As number seven: “Environmental Sustainability” which again includes sanitation. According to the UN every dollar invested in sanitation generates nine dollars back to the country in the form of increased health, increased education, increased working capability among the citizens and better economical development. But among all a better water quality will be achieved.
Ecoloove believes that through its mobile toilet innovation it is able to address (1) the sanitary needs of women and (2) transform the captured waste into viable ecological and renewable business that will emancipate India’s rural women twice over.
As of today, a urine separating toilet is the cheapest, most hygienically and most environmentally friendly sanitation solution, because what usually is considered waste can be used as fertilizer in farming. Farming families who invest in a urine separating toilet can get that investment back through not having to buy fertilizer. In this way a local circulation is set. We have visited farming families both in Gujarat and in Maharashtra with urine separating toilets.
The city scenario looks a little bit different. The farms that could have use for fertilizer from ecological toilets are situated far away from the city. In cities the need for both private and common toilets is huge, especially in slum areas. Additionally, in many cities in India, e.g. Ahmedabad, there are many examples of mobile small business which are collecting paper, plastic and other things for transport and recycling outside the city. The idea of Ecoloove is the combination of these two concepts, a small mobile business with sanitation products representing the economic part. The concept of motivating farms to buy fertilizer from urine and feces will be evaluated & created during the tests in February. One clearly conceivable way is to compete on pricing and a culturally sensitive branding strategy.
The idea of Ecoloove is simple: the ones who are mostly affected by the problem of not having a toilet – women – are offered to start a business financed with microloans to start renting out toilet visits and collecting the sanitation waste. The financing of the Ecoloove toilet business run by women needs to be specified in detail during the business concept phase. The goal is that financing shall come from women or a group of women, with microcredit.
First functional prototype of Ecoloove: three wheeler bicycle in Bamboo and welded steel.
Ecoloove has completed most of the research, got initial feedback from target users & areas and have finished the first ready-to-use prototype. They have tested the prototype in a slum area in Ahmedabad, Bareja. Necessary contacts to production facilities, supporting organizations and the initial target market – slum area in Ahmedabad – have been established already. Ecoloove do have important voluntary support for marketing (reporting), teaching about the problem in target areas, getting tests done with regards to a roll out in a slum area & evaluation of cultural & social acceptance, as well as usage to assess viable business propositions. – Feedback is still extremely enthusiastic & positive.