SANITATION IN RAMAPIR NO TEKRO, AHMEDEBAD, INDIAHome Ramapir No Tekro Chad Composting System Process of Composting Team Bios Resources and Links
Alex Gyoffry, Charles Moritz, Sean Lang-Brown, Jeanette Neethling


We are a group of students who go by “We the Poople.” We have discovered the need for affordable sanitation in an informal settlement in Ahmedebad, India. Throughout the process, we have found a number of opportunities and barriers, and this page summarizes our efforts.


With 7 billion people on the earth, we see human waste handling and sanitation as important issues to address. Human feces can spread salmonella, e. coli, and parasites, which all impact human health. Half of the population in developing countries do not have improved sanitation, which is, by definition, a separation between humans and waste. This can look like pit latrines or some form of toilet. In total, 2.6 billion people do not have access to this improved sanitation. Diarrhea causes 180 million deaths each year, 90% of which are children under 5. With improved sanitation, studies have shown a 37.5% reduction in diarrheal disease. The pursuit of increased improvements in sanitation will continue to reduce diarrheal disease along with death. Improving water access and sanitation is also one of the UN Millennium Development Goals.


If you can’t fight it, use it.
We decided to look into what possible benefits can be derived from human waste. Composting toilets contain human waste that would otherwise end up in water sources and utilize the waste for land application.
Find our research on composting toilets and Humanure here.

Region Under Consideration:

City: Ahmedabad, India
Community (slum): Ramapir No Tekro
We selected this area, because we have a contact who has worked there and has a number of other contacts that we have been able to use.
See our research on sanitation issues in the community and analysis of the development environment of Ramapir No Tekro Here.

Problem Statement:

What is the cultural and physical situation in Rampir No Tekro that must be considered in seeking to improve h;ealth and sanitation for slum-dwellers, and how can we apply appropriate technology to address the issue?


Our plan is based mostly on what we learned from Mark Heath’s work in Chad. Find more information on Mark’s work here.
We propose to include a bucket toilet (or 2) at a central location, a central composting facility, and a community garden. The details are listed below.

Bucket Toilet Design

We would like to provide private toilet facilities to benefit women and children. One of the biggest issues with bucket toilets in India is that they prefer squatting over sitting. To remedy this, buckets will be covered by a platform with a hole in it, resembling the squatting latrines. As learned form the Anganwadi Project, plastic bottles can be used for structural support of the platform and clay bricks can be used for the outhouse structure. Pretty much all of the buildings in the city of Ahmedebad are made of bricks, so this would be a utilization of local
materials. These materials are pictured below.

building materials.jpg

LEFT – Woman carrying clay bricks. They are in abundance and used commonly in Ramapir No Tekro.
RIGHT – A building with building materials used by the Anganwadi Project: water bottles on the left and bricks on the right.

LEFT – A volunteer from the Anganwadi Project collecting bottles for their building project. Using recycled materials cuts down the cost and the overall environmental impact of the project.
RIGHT – An example of a bench using plastic bottles for support. The bottles are filled with some kind of media (sand or shredded paper) and covered by a platform. This is somewhat similar to what would be needed in the outhouse.

The outhouse will be big enough for one person and have stairs leading up to the door that opens onto the platform. On the other side of the outhouse, there will be a small “trap door” big enough to slide the bucket through. This door will provide access to the humanure collector(s) to reach in and replace the bucket when it’s full. Also on the platform, there will need to be access to straw biomass to put down the hole in the platform and cover the waste. Below is a preliminary model of what could be built:

LEFT – Outside view of the outhouse built with clay bricks. RIGHT – Inside view of platform with hole for squatting.

LEFT – Door for operator to remove the bucket when it is full and replace it with a clean one.
RIGHT – Inside view of outhouse with bottles as platform support.

Initially, we propose implementing one or two of these toilets at the central location selected for the operation. If successful, the project can be expanded to families surrounding the center.

Central Composting Facility

We would like to utilize a central location to locate the composting facility. This will decrease the possibility of contamination, as the waste will be managed in one location. Two composting bins will be used would have the following dimensions to facilitate the waste and provide proper retention time of 9 months – 1 year: 2 meters x 1.5 meters x 1.5 meters. Our ideal location would be a school, to promote education of the children. The Anganwadi Project currently builds schools in the slum, and all of their new projects have toilets incorporated. An example of the composting facility is shown below, although ours would be constructed of bricks. The bin in the middle stores biomass for covering he compost and the two bins on the sides are rotated throughout the year. The roof is a resourceful idea, doubling as a cover and a rainwater capture system. The rainwater is guttered to the barrel and the water is later used for washing buckets out.

compost bin 1.jpgcompost bin 2.jpg
Composting site made of wood. SOURCE:

Pantangyu School

One school was built further from the river in a community with less dense population. This one was not officially built with Anganwadi funding, and it does not have a toilet. With the land space provided and the lack of a toilet, we think this site would be a good choice for implementation. It is pictured below.

LEFT – Patangyu School; RIGHT – Neighborhood surrounding Patangyu School
Other options for the facility include other schools, community centers, or women’s centers.

Architecture Student Thesis Project

Also, Kaylyn Berry (visit her Blog here) of the Cal Poly Architecture Program will be designing a community structure for Ramapir No Tekro and hopes to incorporate composting toilets in her design. Our research and the design for the bucket toilet and central composting can be utilized in her design.

The possible routes of implementation are summarized on the Ramapir No Tekro page.

Community Garden

The humanure could be utilized in a community garden near the central composting facility. The Anganwadi project already incorporated gardens into many of their school designs, to promote education and health. As found in Chad, if the people encouraging the use of composting toilets do it themselves, there is more credibility. The garden will service the school as well as the surrounding community and those families who participate.

Possible Expansion

If successful, the bucket toilet operation could be expanded to include more members of the community. The composting facility could be expanded, and bucket toilets could be installed in people’s homes, as is done in Chad. This operation would employ a large number of people for collection and humanure operation.


  • An NGO that is on board and wants to help with implementation. The Environmental Sanitation Institute is the organization currently providing sanitation services in the slum and would be a great organization to work with. However, we have not had any direct contact with them at this point. We have only been referred to them Kaylyn Berry and Manav Sadhna and sent initial e-mails.
  • Building Materials: 5-gallon buckets, recycled bottles, bricks (for the outhouse and the composting bins, rock slab with a hole, biomass for covering, metal material for roofs), wood for doors
  • Funding
    • The expenses include: building materials and labor (construction, transport and retrieval of humanure, outhouse maintenance, treating compost, gardening)
    • The money would most likely come from a grant from an NGO in the area (see above)
    • Alternately, the initial money required for the pilot plant could be easily fundraised on this side of the world. This could include some fundraiser put on by the students in UNIV 392. However, once the initial purchase is performed, compost can be sold for profit to farmers outside of the city, opening the door for more expansion of the project. The vegetables from the garden can also provide income with which to expand the project.
  • A site for central composting
  • A visit to Ramapir no Tekro to verify and expand our research and to hear more from the people!


    • We learned the necessity of knowing the culture and the people you’re working with when implementing appropriate technology.
      • We had to do a lot of research and asking questions to find out what barriers we might have in assessing sanitation.
      • There is still much more research to be done, and we also found that without visiting the place itself, we will not be SURE about the information we found.
      • You really can’t do anything tangible until you’re actually in the place you need to work. It’s the same here in the professional consulting world. More often than not, engineers and architects must visit their site and know the client’s preferences and desires before they can even begin to design something practical.
    • We learned about the possible benefits of using bucket toilets (even here in the US!)
      • They provide a simple solution for handling human waste.
      • They have a very low environmental impact.
      • They exemplify the statement that “waste is food”.
    • We learned to be willing to put aside our desires for the project in order to look from their perspective at what they need or might want.
      • This was hard to do, being in the United States, but we had to do the best we can. We had many conversations where we met the tension of wanting to do what made the most sense to US but knowing that it would not work if it did not make sense to the people using it.
      • It’s not so much about what we think the best solution is; it’s ultimately about collaborating with the people to find out what they need and what they desire.
    • There’s no one solution to any problem for every place in the world.
      • Even though we had a great example in Chad, we found faults in the possibility of replicating it in Ramapir No Tekro.
      • There is no “cookie cutter” solution to the issues surrounding poverty.
    • The most important thing is to learn.
      • In our college education, we love and feel the need to produce a physical product, but this whole process was much more about learning to work as a team and cross-culturally.