Under the Securing Water For Food (SWFF) programme, WASTE & RDO Trust have linked sanitation and agriculture through the production and application of co-compost (mix of faecal sludge and organic solid waste) for vegetable cultivation by smallholder farmers in the Nilgiris. Two faecal sludge treatment plants have been established in Ketti and Adigarahatty Resource Recovery Parks (RRPs) in the Nilgiris since 2017.
Faecal sludge is collected from households by private entrepreneurs. It is transported to the closest RRP with a faecal sludge treatment plant with constructed wetlands. At the RRP, municipal solid waste is received and segregated in organic and non-organic solid waste. The dried form of faecal sludge gets mixed with organic solid waste for co-compost production. The co-compost is sold to female farmers, who use it for soil application. The addition of dry faecal sludge brings extra nutrient value in co-compost.
90% of the users are positive and confident to use co-compost (n=50), 100% of farmers reported increase in crop yield; approximately 70% of farmers felt the change in water usage after using co-compost; 98% of farmers saw increases in the survival rate of crops and 68% of farmers reported changes in family income. In Nilgiris, to date 1,134 tonnes of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are saved by utilising landfill waste to produce co-compost. Over 51,840 kg of nutrients from organic solid waste and faecal sludge are recycled, thus avoiding use of high-carbon-footprint chemical fertilizer. 350,740 kg of total organic carbon is added to the soil in the form of co-compost. This increases soil fertility and will eventually be captured through a carbon sequestration process.
The success of SWFF programme and co-compost innovation has provided a springboard for scaling model within India (Odisha, Rajasthan, Bihar and more) and internationally under the FINISH Mondial programme in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.