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Published on: 05/07/2012

In the absence of a city-wide sewerage network in Bengaluru (Bangalore), one form of sanitation self-service that has emerged is that of the  ‘honey-suckers’. These are are private tankers that empty holding and septic tanks.

Part of the faecal sludge is used productively by farmers in the fringe of Bengaluru. 

The honey-sucker service has emerged without any form of financial or technical assistance, but operates outside the legal framework.

Scaling up of this sanitation service models would have multiple benefits:

  • It provides affordable sanitation services and prevents the random dumping of untreated faecal in the urban environment.
  • It recycles valuable nutrients and will reduce the expenditure on fertiliser subsidies.

However, a number of challenges need to be resolved to enable scaling up: safety for farmers, safety and acceptance of consumers, and the current unsupportive legal framework.  As most forms of treatment are likely to increase costs for farmers as well as tanker operators, they are unlikely to address this unless there are compelling reasons to do so.

A feature story entitled "Productive sanitation - the honey suckers of Bengaluru", based on this case study, was published in the July 2012 issue of New Agriculturist.

Honey-suckers - Sanitation solution from the informal sector

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