Achieving sustainable sanitation in Asia

Development finance has largely been directed towards centralized systems of wastewater management, which has resulted in large populations being excluded from proper wastewater collection and treatment services. Five thousand years ago, when the urban residents of the Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization sat on their toilets, their rural brethren used the fields to defecate. In both the urban and rural models of sanitation, nutrients were recycled via natural fertilizers, and water bodies were not used for dumping raw waste. Ancient Sanskrit oral texts lay out the importance of not allowing human waste, blood, or hazardous substances to contaminate water bodies under any circumstances. Accordingly, defecation was always conducted in distant, uninhabited places, after which feces were covered with soil, and the left hand was used for washing with small amounts of water. Natural plant-based soaps or sand were used to wash the left hand, which would still not be used for eating, just as a precaution. Cholera epidemics were unheard of in ancient India.

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