Waste entrepreneurs

We’ve been working with communities in the slum areas of Faridpur for several years in partnership with the local authority to address the knotty problem of human waste disposal. Waste extracted from pit toilets was usually dumped on waste land or in local rivers, creating significant health hazards.

But now Faridpur has a faecal sludge treatment where pit emptiers can take the sludge waste they extract from the toilet pits, using new mechanical gulpers with a capacity of 1.5 m3 which are both affordable and able to access the narrow roads of the city.

One of the secrets of the success of this initiative has been marketing a product made from the waste. Pit emptiers supplement their income by selling compost made from the waste they collect to a regional network of 8,000 farmers for whom it offers valuable organic matter to improve soil productivity.  This year for the first time, 580 kilos of compost made from human waste was sold to farmers in Faridpur.  It was extensively tested to assure it was safe to handle before going on sale.

Asarun Begum, one of the nine women farmers who bought the compost said,

“We care about soil, and we believe good quality soil can guarantee good harvest. That’s why we are here to buy the compost.”

To promote this venture, the project made a TV series, called Babu, The Famous Bhai. It tells the story of a man who wants to become famous. After many false starts he starts collecting faecal sludge from homes and producing organic fertiliser, which finally realises his dreams of fame. It proved a great hit in Faridpur and inspired  many more entrepreneurs to give the business a go.

So that other cities can share the benefits, we’ve supported the government of Bangladesh to create a regulatory framework for faecal sludge management.  We ensured that it takes into account the needs of poor communities and the health and safety of workers in the sector.

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