Mapping the Kumbh Mela

Interdisciplinary faculty and student research on a “Pop-up Mega City”

Archive for the ‘Sanitation’ Category

Toilets, Poop, and Sanitation at the Kumbh Mela

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By Stephanie Cheng, PharmD, MPH Candidate 2013 – Harvard School of Public Health

When I found out that I was going to the Kumbh Mela to map toilets and sanitation at the Kumbh, I wouldn’t say I was exactly jumping for joy and cringed slightly at the thought of wandering around the Kumbh taking pictures of toilets and asking strangers personal questions about their bathroom habits. Not exactly a glamorous topic.  However, considering the massive scale of migration of people from all over the world to this relatively small and compact area, water and sanitation becomes a huge public health issue in terms of preventing the spread of diseases, particularly those associated with waste and improper sanitation such as cholera.

The water and sanitation team, which consisted of Dr. Richard Cash, Candace Brown and myself from Harvard School of Public Health and Leila Shayegan from Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences, would not proclaim ourselves as experts on toilets.  However by the end of our visit, we could confidently identify the various types of bathroom facilities.  The variety of facilities takes into consideration the fact that pilgrims come from all sorts of backgrounds and are use to a wide variety of toilets.  A sign designates which toilets are for males and which are for females. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by jbordo

January 28, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Posted in All, Green Kumbh, Sanitation

Kumbh Mela festival: a sanitary challenge of mammoth proportions

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Kumbh Mela festival: a sanitary challenge of mammoth proportions

More news on Harvard’s Mapping the Kumbh Mela Project.

Written by jbordo

January 21, 2013 at 2:30 am

Posted in All, Media, Sanitation

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Meena Hewett, SAI Associate Director, on sanitation and public toilets at the Kumbh

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photoDay Two: I accompanied Richard Cash, Harvard School of Public Health, and his students to understand the sanitation and public toilet facilities at the Kumbh. 

There are five main types of toilets at the site: the commonly used, squat on the ground anywhere, a temporarily constructed semi private 4×6 inch enclosure, large public 50x 50 feet open space enclosed by corrugated metal sheets, 4×4 inch individual private cubicles lined adjacent to living tents for kumbh workers residing on the site, “no discharge toilets” and the sophisticated bio toilets (see image) where 90% of solid waste is converted to liquid that is passed through an underground four chamber filtration tank that finally leaches the almost clean water into the ground.The bio toilets are prefabricated structures that can be easily constructed in 24 hours.One of the problems with the bio toilets was its use capacity. It is designed for 200 uses per day but the day of one of the main bathing date (Jan 14) they had 1000 people traffic through the facility leading to a bad jam!

~ Meena

Written by Nora Maginn

January 20, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Posted in All, Sanitation