Restoring dignity to Scavengers
Organiser   21-Jan-2019
Working with a workforce of about 60,000 volunteers in 26 states and 4 union territories, in 551 districts and 1733 towns of the country Sulabh International is causing a silent revolution in the field of sanitation
Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, the voluntary organisation to be felicitated with International Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2016 along with Akshya Patra Foundation, has caused a silent revolution in the field of sanitation. Working with a workforce of about 60,000 volunteers in 26 states and 4 union territories, in 551 districts and 1733 towns of the country, it has been invited to help out in neighbouring countries like, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It has also taken up many programmes in collaboration with the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, Nairobi, and the International Water and Sanitation Centre, Loughborough University of Technology, UK, through the Water Engineering and Development Centre.
Formed in 1970 by Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, Sulabh is dedicated to the Gandhian philosophy of emancipation of scavengers. It has been working for the eradication of untouchability and social discrimination against scavengers, a section of Indian society condemned to cleaning and carrying human excreta manually. It is noted for achieving success in the field of cost-effective sanitation, liberation of scavengers, social transformation of society, prevention of environmental pollution and development of non-conventional sources of energy.
Environmental-friendly two-pit, pour-flush compost toilet known as ‘Sulabh Shauchalaya’ that is socially acceptable, economically affordable, technologically appropriate and does not require scavengers to clean the pits and implemented in more than 1.2 million houses all over India that has helped liberate over a million scavengers.
Construction and maintenance of public toilets at public places and in slums on ‘pay & use basis’ is a landmark of Sulabh in the field of sanitation. So far it has constructed and is maintaining over 8000 such public toilets in Bharat and has constructed 200 biogas plants all over the country. Production of biogas from public toilets and recycling and reuse of effluent through simple and convenient method is the major breakthrough in the field of sanitation and community health.
“We are working for the last 50 years to fulfill the dream of Mahatma Gandhi. His dream was to help the deprived and the exploited sections of the society to join the mainstream. We are working in the same direction and we are hopeful to get success. Our campaign for sanitation has reached all nooks and corners of the country. The announcement of the award has doubled our zeal and we would now work faster in coming days” —Dr Bindeshwar Pathak
Sulabh has also been closely working in collaboration with the national agencies like NBO, CBRI, HUDCO, and Ministries of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Social Justice and Empowerment, Rural Development, Government of India and All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata. Its two-pit pour-flush toilet technology innovatively designed and modified over the years, has been evaluated by many international agencies, like the UNDP/World Bank, UNICEF and WHO and recommended for global replication, especially in the developing countries. In addition, agencies like the Overseas Development Agency (ODA) of the British Government, BORDA, SIDA (the Danish International Development Agency) and European Economic Community have collaborated with the Sulabh.
Sulabh International
  • 1.5 million Sulabh household toilets constructed 
  • 60 million Government toilets based on Sulabh design constructed 
  • 8,500+ Sulabh community toilet blocks 
  • 640 towns made scavenging-free 
  • 20 million People using toilets based on Sulabh design daily
Some achievements of Sulabh are astonishing. It has been able to restore human rights and dignity to more than a million scavengers, set up about 1.5 million household toilets and 7500 community toilet blocks, constructed over 190 human-excreta-based biogas plants and made 640 towns scavenging-free. The sanitation facilities created by the Sulabh are used by over 20 million people everyday.
Altogether there are 60,000 volunteers working with Sulabh that include technocrats, managers, scientists, engineers, social scientists, doctors, architects, planners and other non-revenue staff. Sulabh takes 30 years maintenance guarantee for the toilet complexes constructed by it.
Sulabh International in collaboration with UN-HABITAT, Nairobi has trained professionals from 14 African countries for their capacity development towards achieving the MDG for sustainable development in water and sanitation. Sulabh technologies have received worldwide recognition. Sulabh has recently signed an MoU with Ethiopia to provide its expertise to improve sanitation, health and hygiene. It has trained more than 50,000 people to work in the construction and maintenance of co munity toilets in India.