The above graph is an excerpt from the World Bank data which shows the improvement of sanitation facilities in India and its neighbouring countries in the year 1990 and 2015. According to Forbes, India is the fourth fastest growing economy in 2017. The data of World Bank has a shocking revelation for this fast-growing country. The above graph reveals that India has not created any significant change in improving the sanitation conditions. In 1990, the percentage of the population with access to improved sanitation facilities in India was 17%, ahead of only Nepal, but in 2015 India was behind all the neighbouring countries.
According to Swachhta Status Report of 2015 by NSSO, about 52.1% of the rural population of India still defecates in the open.The practice of open defecation leads to serious ailments such as typhoid, cholera, diarrhoea, hepatitis, intestinal worm infections etc. Not only this, women face a higher risk of sexual harassment and molestation when they have to defecate in the open, apart from the loss of dignity.
Impactpreneurs had a detailed talk with Sanjay Banka, the Managing Director of Banka BioLoo, to understand what Banka BioLoo has been doing to end the problem of open-defecation in India. Sanjay Banka became an active member of Banka BioLoo team in 2015. He is also the Steering Committee Member of Sanitation and Water for All (a New York-based multi-stakeholder partnership).
Inception of Banka BioLoo
Namita Banka incorporated Banka BioLoo in 2012 which now has 150-200 people. She has worked with the Indian Railways, since 2009, on Control Discharge Toilet Systems (CDTS) and bio-toilets, to understand and improve the sanitation facilities in trains. Subsequently, she started Banka BioLoo. Today, Indian Railways is one of her main partner-clients.
“Our mission is to provide toilets where sanitation facilities are rare,” remarked Sanjay while talking about Banka BioLoo’s mission. “Women suffer more from lack of proper sanitation facilities. The girls in school need proper sanitation, may be more than boys. Health, dignity and security are concerns of women when it comes to sanitation,” said Sanjay while explaining why Banka Bioloo is a woman-oriented enterprise.
Sanitation Systems offered by Banka BioLoo
Banka BioLoo has introduced sustainable sanitation facilities which are both eco-friendly and affordable. The bio-digester is one of Banka BioLoo’s flagship products. Bio-digester is a specialized multi-chambered tank wherein microbial inoculum is placed, and the human waste (fecal sludge) is collected and treated in anaerobic condition (absence of oxygen). The bio-digester is an on-site waste treatment system, it doesn’t require external infrastructure, hence, making it an affordable system. The output of this bio-digester system is effluent water that could be used for gardening.
Banka BioLoo and Government
“Our entire work is around Swachh Bharat Abhiyan,” said Sanjay while talking about Banka BioLoo’s support to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission). Banka BioLoo is supporting India to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goal 6 that targets adequate and equitable access to hygiene and sanitation for all and end open defecation. They had also supported Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan in 2012 which is the predecessor of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
“We have had opportunities to partner with the government on advocacy, and for development of improved sanitation facilities in India, and to use biotechnology that promotes eco-friendly sanitation,” shared Sanjay while talking about collaboration with the Government.
Funds and Investments
Banka BioLoo has received funds in the form of equity primarily from friends and family. They are a for-profit organization, so they need to ensure adequate revenue for the business, and keep the momentum going. They earn from the users who use their technology and through CSR (wherein the company pays on behalf of the beneficiaries).
Challenges Faced by Banka BioLoo
“One of the biggest challenges we face is advocacy for sanitation, especially sustainable sanitation. Even if people have enough finance and the means to adopt modern technology for sanitation, people still opt for traditional sanitation systems such as pit latrines over the modern ones. Changing the mindsets of people is a slow process,” said Sanjay while talking about the challenges faced by Banka Bioloo.
Banka BioLoo has been reaching to communities through partners and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects. In 2012, Banka BioLoo’s pilot project in Odisha was inaugurated by the then Minister of Rural Development and Drinking Water and Sanitation, Mr. Jairam Ramesh.
“The path is not easy. Not a lot of real support is available. There won’t be enough capital available, but persist and persevere” advises Sanjay to the young entrepreneurs.
Sanjay also drew our attention to how proper water and sanitation can improve the health and economy of our country. Sanjay also remarked that just like education and health should be for all, sanitation should also be for all at all places and at all times.
Pic Credits: Banka BioLoo