WASTE, a Dutch notfor-profit company, together with Indian partners, FINISH Society & Rural Development Organization (RDO) Trust, demonstrated how a circular economy in sanitation can aid climatesensitive regions while bringing better sanitation and a nourishing crop yield. The circular model helps the area complete the circle of recycling faecal matter and organic solid waste into usable nutrient-enhanced fertiliser. Additionally, they are also separately innovating with greywater recycling, in which the treated greywater is used for irrigating crops.

The greywater treatment project in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu is called Securing Water For Food (SWFF). It has treated kitchen and bathroom water waste to recycle and release it to 25,000 acres of farmland in the Badaga community-dominated area of the Nilgiris. The farm produce from this US AID-funded project has shown a 15 percent increase in yield.

WASTE business developer (circular economy in sanitation) Priska Prasetya said, “Too often, the lack of faecal sludge treatment services results in private faecal sludge collectors disposing faecal sludge into the open environment (e.g. water bodies, land, jungle) at an extraordinary cost to public and environmental health.” She has collaborated with RDO Trust project manager Rajkumar Sampath, who works on-site from the Nilgiris. The two were handpicked to be among the 1,200 entrepreneurs at the recently concluded ninth annual GES, sponsored by the US State Department and the Dutch government.

Our circular economy model in sanitation for agriculture in the Nilgiris has a holistic approach that deals with the sourcing of waste, production of agricultural input by women in cooperatives and we work closely with the Indian government,” Prasetya said. “Additionally, the team is establishing a market-link for farmers who purchase the co-compost to avoid middlemen, and also a financial mechanism to support the sustainability of the model,” she added.

The circular economy model in sanitation for agriculture in the Nilgiris has been recognised by the Indian government for its ability to be replicated and its scalability. “For this reason, we believe our innovation has a good chance of receiving additional investment for use across India,” Prasetya said.

Agriculture was suffering in Tamil Nadu due to the over-application of chemical fertilisers and limited water availability for 4-6 months due to climate change.

Horticulture is especially important to the region since it is one of the most visited tourist areas of India, and good soil is needed to provide the kinds of vegetation to meet demand.

Faecal sludge treatment and reuse can offer immense and scalable opportunities for business development and employment creation by entrepreneurs on the ground by transforming waste into low-carbon assets (co-compost) for soil application in agriculture.

FINISH Society, is a Dutch-promoted, Lucknow-based NGO which been working in the sanitation and water recycling space for the past nine years. It was recently in the news for facilitating the construction of I million toilets in India. Based on the experience gained in India and Kenya, FINISH Society has embarked on a six-nation circular economy intervention that includes India, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania & Uganda. The global initiative is called the Finish Mondial program.

CHANDER MAHADEV

Source: Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
Publication date: 22 Jun 2019
Author: CHANDER MAHADEV (The author is a former journalist)