Sanitation and the City

Here is a piece (that I wrote for emerging innovation) on the general issue of sanitation in Delhi but also true for many Indian cities:

In the words of EI:

“In her first essay for Emerging Innovation, Julia King retraces some of her work on the improvement of sanitation facilities in the disadvantaged communities of New Delhi.

Thoroughly illustrated with visuals and examples from her project, King makes the case for a new form of sanitation development initiative, which would put the individual and his community at the center of the process. While defined for the ecosystem of New Delhi, Ms. King’s project is relevant to many a city of the developing world. ”


“In my opinion the emphasis on individual toilets is grossly missing the point. So although in macro terms 64 percent of Indian households in towns and cities do not have access to any kind of toilet or latrine, roughly half of urban India has flush/pour toilet latrines of which only 18.8 percent of these toilets are connected to a piped sewerage system. What this means in layman terms is that out of all the toilets that India does have only 18.8% are connected to sewers and the rest discharge raw untreated effluent into open drains or to stagnate in low lying land. And equally alarming is that in the cases where these toilets are connecting to sewers, where are these sewers going?

Without access to proper data but based on extensive field work many sewers in Indian towns and cities are directed not to sewage treatment plants but to open flowing natural ‘canal-like’ bodies (called naalas), seeping into the ground, polluting groundwater and eventually flowing into principal rivers and other water bodies. The end result is that all individuals are collectively affected by such universal environmental degradation. And so, the emphasis needs to move away from (individual) toilets to encompass the entire sanitation value chain and crucially to frame collective solutions for our collective problem.”


About juliakingat

British / Venezuelan, Architect & Urban Researcher; PhD Candidate

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