Defecating in the open can contaminate water supplies and spread diseases such as diarrhoea, which kill many thousands of people every year.
Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of Sulabh International, says he has designed a toilet system that organically breaks down faeces into trapped biogas that can be burned to provide cooking fuel and electricity. He says that his group plans to push the system at the seventh World Toilet Summit in New Delhi later this month.
AdvertisementHealth and sanitation experts from over 40 countries will be meeting to discuss ways to help 2.6 billion people worldwide who currently have no access to toilets.
"The Millennium Development Goals set in South Africa in 2002 aim by 2015 to cut by half the 2.6 billion people worldwide who lack toilets and provide them to all by 2025," ABC Science Online quoted Pathak, as saying.
According to the World Health Organization, more than half of those without toilets live in India or China.
Pathak says his system would also help to combat global warming because apart from producing renewable energy, greenhouse gases like methane from the excreta are trapped in the system. The system also converts urine into fertiliser.
"We want others to know about this technology," says Pathak.
He says 170 of the biogas toilets have so far been installed in India and five were recently installed in Kabul, Afghanistan.
About half a million people in India are engaged in manual scavenging - cleaning toilets and carrying human excreta on their heads or carting it from toilets without a sewage system and dumping it in rubbish tips, says Pathak.
The practice is banned but prevalent because of lack of other employment opportunities and proper sewage systems. The four-day toilet summit begins on October 31