Eco-friendly toilets in India to improve health and dignity of the poor

Oct 30, 2015

New York – Banka BioLoo, an Indian company that provides innovative solutions for human waste treatment, has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) in distributing environmentally-friendly toilets to low-income families across India. BCtA is a global initiative that encourages companies to fight poverty through inclusive business models. It is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other international organizations.

Banka BioLoo’s plans to install 300,000 innovative sanitation systems, or bioloos, across the country by 2020. Bioloos will also be installed in 3,000 schools, reaching an additional 120,000 girls. The company estimates that 94,000 temporary jobs will be created as a result of this expansion.

“Banka BioLoo is committed to environmental sustainability and social uplift by providing affordable and sustainable solutions for sanitation across India,” said Sanjay Banka, Banka BioLoo’s Chief Executive Officer. “By providing eco-friendly bio-toilets, we are helping to meet the new Sustainable Development Goals while supporting the Indian Government’s vision of a cleaner, healthier society. We are pleased to have our business model recognized by the Business Call to Action and look forward to working with fellow members to advance the new global development agenda.”

The shortage of toilets and proper sanitation in India is still a major concern. Nearly 600 million people – half of the country’s population – lack access to adequate sanitation, which increases the risk of water contamination and diseases. According to the World Bank, diarrhea kills approximately 800,000 children under age five every year and leaves millions more malnourished and stunted. The absence of sanitation is especially acute in rural and peri-urban areas with its higher than average population density and lack of access to water and sewage infrastructure.

Bioloos provide an inexpensive and easy-to-operate alternative for traditional waste disposal. The bio-toilet system treats human waste at the source with no need for transport, no contamination of the environment or groundwater, no energy requirements and no heavy infrastructure. It also leaves pathogen-free water that can be used for gardening. In large bio-tanks, methane can also be collected and used for fuel.

Bioloos can be installed anywhere, whether urban, semi-urban or rural areas. They use a bio-digester technology that was developed by India’s Defense Research Development Organization. Although the technology has been available for several years, Banka BioLoo was one of the first companies to commercialize it, and then successfully introduce it into some of India’s most hard-to-reach areas.

Banka BioLoo works directly with low-income families, as well as in partnership with regional and local governments, NGOs, foundations, private companies and municipal corporations. They are installing bioloos in schools, homes, public places, rural areas, construction sites, urban slums and other areas with no sewage systems. Thanks to these efforts 3,000 bioloos are installed each year.

Women and girls are the biggest beneficiaries of Banka BioLoo’s technology: bioloos provide them a sense of security and dignity, support menstrual hygiene and contribute to girls’ school attendance.

The Indian Railways are their main public sector partner and are switching from open-chute toilets to bio-toilets on trains, leading to cleaner rail tracks. This switch has a direct impact on passengers, as well as an indirect impact on the millions of poor families that live near railroad tracks. These impacts are even greater considering the reduced risk of water-borne disease through onsite waste treatment.

A major pillar of Banka BioLoo’s inclusive business model is local employment and sourcing. All staff involved in manufacturing the units are given pensions, health benefits and access to their banking system. Each installation includes the training of local masons and laborers, some of whom are later given full-time employment. In addition, every service contract provides employment for 10-12 local youth from poor families. 50 percent of Banka BioLoo team members are from low-income households.

“Banka BioLoo’s inclusive business model is an example of the power of the private sector to address development challenges through innovative, needs-based products, strategic partnerships for marketing and distribution, and viable employment that helps families move out of poverty,” said Suba Sivakumaran, BCtA Programme Manager. “We are pleased to welcome the company as a member and look forward to gaining from Banka BioLoo’s knowledge and experience.”

About Business Call to Action (BCtA): The Business Call to Action challenges companies to advance core business activities that are inclusive of poor populations and contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals. Worldwide, 137 companies, from SMEs to multinationals, have responded to the BCtA by making commitments to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions through commercially-viable business ventures that engage low-income people as consumers, producers, suppliers, and distributors of goods and services.

The Business Call to Action is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development (DFID), US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat — in collaboration with leading global institutions, such as the United Nations Global Compact, and the Inter-American Development Bank’s Opportunities for the Majority Initiative. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.

About Banka BioLoo: Banka BioLoo provides eco-friendly and sustainable solutions for sanitation in rural, urban and peri-urban areas. The bioloos (or bio-toilets) treat human waste at the source using a bacterial culture, which eliminates the need for excreta disposal and separate treatment. The system disposes human waste in a 100 percent eco-friendly manner that saves energy, conserves and produces bio-gas. Banka BioLoo’s solutions meet the needs of its customer with basic, easy-to-install and hygienic human waste disposal mechanisms in areas with no infrastructure facilities such as sewerage treatment plants, and offer a cheaper, easy-to-operate solution to traditional waste disposal systems.

For more information:

Business Call to Action: Jeanne Finestone at jeanne.finestone@undp.org

BankaBioLoo: Sanjay Banka at sanjay.banka@bankabio.com

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