Indian activist wins Stockholm Water Prize

March 25th, 2009 - 8:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Stockholm, March 25 (DPA) Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of the Sulabh Sanitation Movement and inventor of a toilet system credited with improving sanitation across India was Wednesday named the winner of the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize.
The award, worth $150,000, was created in 1990 to recognize achievements in water science, water management, water action or awareness building.

Pathak, born in 1943 in the state of Bihar, is credited with developing a simple twin pit, pour-flush toilet system used in more than 1.2 million residences and buildings.

The facilities, which are pay-per-use, offer “an economically sustainable, ecological, and culturally acceptable solution to hygiene problems in crowded slum communities and public places.”

Waste from these toilets is converted into bio-gas for heating, cooking, and generating electricity.

The technology has since been recommended by the United Nations HABITAT and Centre for Human Settlements, as well as the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP.

“The results of Dr Pathak’s endeavours constitute one of the most amazing examples of how one person can impact the well-being of millions,” the jury said in its citation.

The award is to be presented at a ceremony in Stockholm during the World Water Festival in August.

Sulabh International Social Service Organization has also launched operations in Bhutan and Afghanistan. Sulabh has, together with UN-HABITAT, trained engineers, architects and others from 14 countries in Africa.

Sulabh is planning to work in Ethiopia, Cambodia, Laos, Angola, Madagascar, Dominican Republic, and Tajikistan.

Pathak has also written and lectured on public health and hygiene.

Last year, Professor John Anthony Allan of King’s College London and the School of Oriental and African Studies was awarded for launching the concept of “virtual water” that “measures how water is embedded in the production and trade of food and consumer products.”

Recent winners include: Indian-born Asit K. Biswas, for contributions to global water resource issues; US researcher Perry L. McCarty, for developing water and wastewater systems; and the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), an Indian non-governmental organization, that campaigns for better water management by using traditional rainwater harvesting.

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