Sulabh International

Sulabh International is an India-based social service organization that works to promote human rights, environmental sanitation, non-conventional sources of energy, waste management and social reforms through education. The organization counts 50,000 volunteers.[1] Sulabh International is the largest nonprofit organization in India.[2]

Sulabh International Social Service Organization
Logo of Sulabh.png
TypeNon-governmental organization
Area served
A delegation of sanitary workers from various parts of the country working with the Sulabh International with the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, in New Delhi on 16, May 2006


Sulabh was founded by Bindeshwar Pathak from Bihar State in 1970, and have 50,000 volunteers Innovations include a scavenging-free two-pit pourflush toilet (Sulabh Shauchalaya); safe and hygienic on-site human waste disposal technology; a new concept of maintenance and construction of pay-&-use public toilets, popularly known as Sulabh Complexes with bath, laundry and urinal facilities being used by about ten million people every day and generates bio-gas and biofertilizer produced from excreta-based plants, low maintenance waste water treatment plants of medium capacity for institutions and industries. Other work includes setting up English-medium public school in New Delhi and also a network of centres all over the country to train boys and girls from poor families, specially scavengers, so that they can compete in open job market.


A Sulabh urinal complex in Chennai
Example of two "ecosan" toilet slabs, found in a Sulabh complex in India

The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements has praised Sulabh's sanitation system as a global "Urban Best Practice" at the Habitat-II conference held at Istanbul, Turkey, in June 1996.[citation needed] The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations granted Special Consultative Status to Sulabh in recognition of its work.[3]

Sulabh claims their plan on human waste disposal and social reforms has provided jobs directly to 35,000 people, and has created 10,000,000 (1 crore) mandays, making 240 towns scavenging free.[4]

Sulabh has established coordination with various national and international agencies, including British Council, USAID, BORDA, a German organisation, Commission of European Union, Belgium, GERES, France, CEEIC, HRIEE, China and Haskoning and Euroconsult, a Dutch firm.

Sulabh found mention in page 124 of the Human Development Index report for 2006. Sulabh was commended for bringing sanitation to the poor in India.

In October 2007, Sulabh announced the design of a cheap toilet system that recycles human waste into biogas and fertilizer.

Pathak has been conferred with the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize for his contributions towards his work.[5] Sulabh International awarded Gandhi Peace Prize for year 2016 jointly with Akshaya Patra Foundation in 2019.[6]

Sulabh International Museum of ToiletsEdit

In Sulabh International's premises in Delhi, the company runs a museum dedicated to the history of sanitation and toilets.[7][8]


The organization has come under severe criticism by scholars like Mukul Sharma (2017) in his book Caste and Nature: Dalits and Indian Environmental Politics. Sharma's criticism majorly pertains to how a Brahmin and Gandhian activist Bindeshwar Pathak employ patronising and glorifying methods while dealing with caste based occupation like manual scavenging and sanitation work in general.[9]


  1. ^ "Sulabh International gets U.N. recognition". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2008-10-05. Archived from the original on 2008-10-07.
  2. ^ George, Rose. (September 2008). The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters. Metropolitan Books. ISBN 978-0-8050-8271-5.
  3. ^ "Sulabh know-how to go international". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2008-11-11. Archived from the original on 2012-11-05.
  4. ^ "Sulabh International Social Service Organization" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Sulabh founder wins Swedish prize". TIMES OF INDIA. 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  6. ^ "President confers Gandhi Peace Prize". All India Radio. February 26, 2019.
  7. ^ Lonely Planet India – 10th edition
  8. ^ "Sulabh International Museum of Toilets". June 26, 2009. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
  9. ^

External linksEdit