The Challenge

Most Indians lack access to safe sanitation. More than 600 million people in India defecate in the open every day—more than in the rest of the world combined. The country has a dire need not only for more toilets but also for safe containment, transport, treatment, and disposal of human waste. Most of the human waste ends up back in the environment, untreated. This is the single biggest source of water pollution in India and has devastating health consequences. Contaminated water is a major cause of chronic diarrhea, which kills hundreds of thousands of children each year and leaves many more stunted for life.

The Opportunity

Investing in better sanitation can yield significant economic and social benefits in India by reducing the incidence of infectious diseases and preventing disability and early death. Better sanitation can also reduce healthcare costs, increase productivity, and lead to better educational outcomes.

Given the scale of the problem, the most effective solutions are decentralized ones, such as innovative toilets that treat waste and state-of-the-art sewage treatment plants at the community level.

Our Strategy

Our ultimate goal is to help ensure clean cities in India with universal access to hygienic toilets as well as local solutions to contain, treat, and safely dispose of human waste. We work with India’s central government and selected states and cities to create viable city sanitation plans, promote partnerships with the private sector for delivery of sanitation services, demonstrate innovative technology and design solutions, and build demand for sanitation services by working with communities and influencing social norms. The government’s deep political commitment and focus on the ongoing Swacch Bharat Mission present a historic opportunity; we are partnering closely with both rural and urban ministries to help accelerate the progress of this effort.