outbrain
Close  

Washroom-on-wheels: India firm turns buses into women’s toilets

/ 04:51 PM February 24, 2020
washroom india

This photo taken on Feb. 9, 2020 shows people walking past a mobile toilet on a bus at a public park in Pune. Launched in 2016 by entrepreneurs Ulka Sadalkar and Rajeev Kher, the Ti Toilet project; ti means her in the local Marathi language. It has 11 mobile washrooms, which are on average used by more 200 women daily. Image: AFP/Indranil Mukherjee

Like many Indian women, college student Suvarna Dongare dreads getting caught short when she is out and about, with hygienic public toilets in short supply across the country.

So she was pleasantly surprised to find a pink women-only “washroom-on-wheels” in a public park in western India. It is one of several facilities dotting the city of Pune, where a pair of entrepreneurs have transformed run-down buses into hop-on toilets.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I came to the park and wanted to visit the bathroom urgently. These toilets are very comfortable and felt safe,” 18-year-old Dongare told AFP.

For a relatively affordable five-rupee-fee (seven United States cents), any woman can board the toilet to use the facilities, breastfeed babies or purchase sanitary napkins and diapers.

FEATURED STORIES

Launched in 2016 by entrepreneurs Ulka Sadalkar and Rajeev Kher, the “Ti Toilet” project (“ti” means “her” in the local Marathi language) has 12 mobile washrooms, on average used by more 200 women daily. The buses are powered by solar panels mounted on top of the vehicle.

Sadalkar said the pair, who run a portable sanitation business, came up with the idea as part of a series of projects focused on improving hygiene in the city.

“We believe women deserve access to clean and safe washrooms and it is their basic right,” she told AFP, adding that the duo wanted to open 1,000 toilets across India in the next five years. “We focused a lot on aesthetics in refurbishing these buses and provided clean toilets, television sets, temperature monitors with an attendant in tow.”

Manisha Adhav, 40, who operates one of the toilets, told AFP she felt “proud working here as we are doing something for women”.

“Women bless me … as they come here from far away areas as well because there aren’t enough public washrooms around.”

Even as India went on a building spree constructing millions of toilets as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship “Clean India” program, experts said the lack of water or electricity meant many remain unused.

State governments have struggled to maintain public toilets, which are often poorly lit, unmanned, and reek of urine and feces. These too are mostly used by men, with women, fearing for their safety, going long hours without using such facilities.

ADVERTISEMENT

Modi in October declared India free of open defecation and said 600 million people had been provided with access to toilets. But experts questioned the claims and said sanitation and safety remain intertwined for millions of Indian women.

Finding “clean and safe washrooms in public spaces is not easy during emergencies,” Adhav said. “We are trying to change that.” JB

RELATED STORIES:

India to introduce visa with variable fees for peak and low seasons

Uniqlo makes a move on India

Read Next
EDITORS' PICK
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: feminine hygiene, India, public toilets, sanitation, Toilets
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2020 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.