India 2023—Sanitation and Clean Water Initiative

Laxmi holding flag of india representing initiative in India to improve clean water and sanitation

You turn the sink on at home and clear, clean water flows out. You flush the toilet and know that it’s not going to end up in your water or the food you buy from the grocery store. You walk around town without worrying about stepping in a puddle of sewage or running into someone going to the bathroom.

But 2.3 billion people in the world can’t say the same. Instead, they have to worry about drinking water that’s black with sewage or waiting until night time to go to the bathroom in a nearby forest. That’s why ZuLoo is continuing our partnership with SAPID (Study Action Group for Participative Integrated Development) to improve clean water and sanitation in Hyderabad, India.

The Sanitation Crisis in India

India has some of the most beautiful cities and monuments in the world, each with a rich culture and history. But these places are also plagued by a sanitation crisis—one that’s been in the making for centuries.

UNICEF estimates that less than 50% of the country has access to safely managed drinking water. Over 2 million homes receive water that’s mixed with arsenic and fluoride, or that’s almost black in color because of incomplete sewage systems.

48% of India’s population practices open defecation, which means they do their business in open fields or public areas. With nowhere for that poo to go, it’s often recycled into the water supply, creating a vicious cycle of poor health, damaged crops, and a $600 million annual burden on the global economy.

It’s causing hundreds of thousands of deaths a year, preventing children from attending school, and increasing the chance that women and girls will be a victim of sexual assault. Life gets much more dangerous without a safe place to go to the bathroom.

earthworms helping to improve clean water and sanitation in India

The Solution? Toilets Powered by Earthworms

That’s why ZuLoo, in collaboration with SAPID, is launching a program in Hyderabad, India to improve clean water and sanitation. By building 100 Soilets and 10 clean water wells, we hope to provide basic sanitation to over 6,000 people in the slums of Hyderabad.

Soilets are toilets powered by worms—yes, worms! These toilets use specialized earthworms to break down waste and then deposit it back into the ground. This doesn’t just keep human waste out of the water supply, it also creates nutrient-rich soil that can be used to grow crops.

Not only are these toilets eco-friendly and sustainable, but they’re also a much cheaper solution than traditional sewage systems. The low cost of the Soilet means that people in rural areas don’t have to worry about building expensive treatment plants or digging wells to get access to clean water.

In addition to the Soilets, we’re also building 10 clean water wells in the area. On average, women and girls in India spend 35 minutes a day fetching water. That adds up to 27 days of missed school or work. Our wells will provide a safe source of clean water for the community, reducing that time burden and enabling people to live healthier lives.

Saving Lives With a Toilet: It’s Too Good to Be Poo

ZuLoo’s work in Hyderabad is an important step towards providing basic sanitation to India’s population and improving health outcomes. By tackling the root of the problem—access to clean water and toilets—we can have a ripple effect across other aspects of life: women can go to school, children can play outside, and communities can thrive.

To improve clean water and sanitation, it takes more than just a toilet. It takes a community of people willing to educate themselves and take action. Helping over 6,700 people in India access safely managed sanitation will cost about $70,000. That divides out to $10.50 per person—less than your monthly Starbucks or streaming subscriptions.

If you’re interested in funding these Soilets or wells directly, take a look at our 242 program or consider a 100% tax-deductible donation. To learn more about the state of sanitation, listen to our  Pōōdcast and discover everything you need to know about toilets.