Tackling poverty one toilet at a time

Sanitation is the single most cost-effective public health intervention to reduce child mortality.
(World Bank, 2006)

Every year, over 800,000 children under five die from some form of diarrhoea based disease; dirty hands, flies and contaminated earth make home a deadly place to be. Our ecosan toilets have transformed the lives of 350,000 people in India and Africa. Whole communities are healthier, adults can go to work, and children can stay in school. By earning more and spending less on medication, people are much better off. This all adds up to a brighter future full of opportunity for everyone.

CODE RED: The Equality Emergency

Every year, 10 million children in India leave school when they start their periods.

This is an equality emergency.



Help us raise awareness in the battle for menstrual equality. Make a donation and post a selfie on instagram using our Your Body is A Battleground filter. Originally by Barbara Kruger, Your Body is a Battleground, first stood as a protest against controlled reproductive rights, now it stands again for fighting the battle for womb empowerment today.


Dignity & Respect

It’s not just about toilets; it’s about respect. Thanks to our supporters, we’re able to give more respect, dignity and hope to some of the poorest people in the world.

Why Toilets?


2.4 billion people worldwide do not have a toilet; the consequences of this kills more children than Aids, Malaria, and Measles combined. Just one gram of human poo can contain 10,000,000 viruses, 1,000,000 bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs. This is a huge and constant risk to public health and the only solution is better sanitation.


Women in India routinely risk their own safety because of the fact that they do not have access to safe sanitation. This is because women are often attacked while they are looking in rural areas for places to defecate; their vulnerability is heightened as they venture out alone when it is dark, in order to preserve their privacy and dignity.


Imagine a school with no toilets. Valuable time is lost and unnecessary stress is created every time a child has to find somewhere to go to the toilet. One of the biggest factors causing girls to leave education 
is unsafe toilet practices. Once a toilet is introduced into a school, we see a 15% increase in girls’ attendance rate.

A global sanitation crisis

We currently live in a world where more people in India own a mobile phone than a toilet. This shocking lack of basic sanitation leads to the contraction of diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio, which are all carried by faecally contaminated water.

Too weak to attend work or school, many people are forced to buy expensive medicine, becoming trapped in an endless cycle of poverty. As well as being a public health issue, sanitation is also, undoubtedly, a major contributor to social injustice and poverty.


In our opinion ecosan is the ultimate eco-toilet. Why? Because of the unique way it works to safely convert the waste into a soil conditioning compost and fertiliser.

The nutrients found in an adult’s human waste contain the same amount of nutrients that are required to grow enough cereal to sustain that same adult.

It’s almost as if nature intended people to recycle their waste and create more food!

We believe that composting ecosan toilets are the ultimate in sustainability. By producing humanure, ecosan works with, and not against nature, benefitting people and the environment.


Western style flush toilets rely on a huge sewer infrastructure and a constant supply of water to function. The 2.4 billion people without toilets, however, can’t wait for these to be supplied. Ecosan toilets require minimal infrastructure. We expect our ecosan toilets to have a 30-year life span and when you calculate the cost per person per year, ecosan starts to look very attractive indeed.

Fertiliser Crisis

The earth is losing 25 billion tons of topsoil every year, which simply cannot be replaced with chemical fertilisers. The New Scientist has noted that: “All farmable soil could be gone in 60 years. Given soil grows 95 per cent of our food, and sustains human life, this is a huge problem. Many would argue soil degradation is the most critical environmental threat to humans”.

If all 774 million people in India waiting for household toilets stood in a line, the queue would stretch from Earth, to the Moon, and beyond.

Our Work

Sanitation First has a vision of everyone having access to a safe and hygienic toilet. Toilets are the stepping-stones towards a better future for people living in acute poverty, as basic sanitation is the linchpin that connects all other forms of development. Without improved sanitation, poverty will not be eradicated.

We will always employ the right system to best suit the needs of our users, and our work fits broadly into three categories: community, schools and family.

Sanitation First toilets built

People using our toilets every day

Number of uses per day

Tonnes of compost produced


Since 2010, Sanitation First has been developing an innovative solution designed to function efficiently in the challenging environments of space-restricted slums; we call this our Inner-City Sanitation model (ICS), which has grown to 6,000 users.


Sanitation First has built 158 school ecosan blocks in primary, middle and senior schools, providing relief from fear and shame to over 155,000 children in India. Our ecosan toilets give these children a safe, clean and hygienic place to go to the toilet.


Children often tell their family about their new school toilet, which motivates local communities to request toilets for their homes. We often find that school toilets are the catalyst for a whole village to achieve the dream of everyone using a toilet.

Sanitation First

Tackling Poverty one Toilet at a Time

PO Box 5328


BA13 9BR


- 92 days ago

@SanFirstIndia: Sanitation First India is hiring for the role of Communications Executive in Chennai. Do check out the role profile here : https://t.co/dffRdMMk1b
h J R

- 92 days ago

@SanFirstIndia: Schools have reopened and SFI team is back in action training children at ADW schools of Villupuram district. This morning over 250 students learnt all about adolescence, puberty and menstruation. They also received sustainable hygiene kits thanks to The Cycle (SFUK) https://t.co/ZsM6ghUrab
h J R

- 99 days ago

@SanFirstIndia: SFI built the first ever Ecosan toilet block in a Govt High school, Mathuranthakanallur, in 2005 which was in full use until it got damaged during lockdown. Work in progress to bring it back to use. Images from 2005, 2012 and the work going on now.... #sustainablesanitation https://t.co/kXK1nqwuJv
h J R

- 112 days ago

@SanFirstIndia: SFI's hand wash units were inaugurated yesterday by Project Officer Selvakumar S at Rangarajapuram & MGR Nagar schools, who were also provided with soap and dispenser supplies to be topped up over a year.Thanks to our donor St James Place Charitable Foundation & @SanFirstUK https://t.co/HiNdoDOIGz
h J R
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