NGO: Economic Rural Development Society


Economic Rural Development Society (ERDS) is an NGO established in 1982 in  West Bengal. ERDS owes its existence to the dedication and hard work of Mr. Madhu Basu, who wanted to combat the growing poverty in rural and urban areas. It is a non-profit, secular and non-political organization dedicated to the mitigation of misery and poverty, and upliftment of the impoverished.

The primary objective of the organization is to engage in sustainable development techniques to empower the local rural communities, especially women and children. In the initial years it concentrated on non-formal and adult education. Gradually ERDS has diversified its activities in other fields such as women empowerment, children education, health & nutrition, low cost sanitation, care & rehabilitation of the elderly.

IDRF Partner Since: 2005

Focus Area(s): Health, Education, Women Empowerment and Disaster Rehabilitation

Location: West Bengal

Project Title: Rural Sanitation Project


Open defecation poses a serious threat to the health and dignity of women and encounter dangers such as snake bites. Poor sanitation also cripples national development as workers produce less, live shorter lives, save and invest less, and are less able to send their children to school. The Government of India is aiming to achieve Open Defecation Free -India by October 2, 2019- the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing 12 million toilets in rural India. While Swachh Bharat Abhiyan became household word since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s launching this campaign on Gandhi Jayanti in 2014, IDRF has been actively involved in this mission since 2010.

IDRF has joined hands with ERDS to expand its rural sanitation program for 3,000 Below Poverty Line (BPL) families living in Gajole, Malda and  Dakshin Dinajpur in West Bengal. This project will benefit 18,000 people by providing low cost sanitation facilities at the household level and create a healthy and safe environment for better living. ERDS identifies BPL families without the sanitation units in the beneficiary villages. The NGO staff conducts awareness sessions and trains them for the use and maintenance of the sanitation units.

Each eco-friendly sanitation unit is consisting of two alternating pits. Overtime human waste is dewatered and turns into organic manure.

The construction of sanitation units has started with great enthusiasm in Malda and so far 606 units have already been constructed. We have a long way to meet our target of 3000 units. It takes about 3 days for the construction of one unit at the cost of $250. In this area the beneficiaries are not yet getting the government funding for constructing the sanitation units due to inordinate bureaucratic hurdles. As an integral part of IDRF’s policy, an active participation of beneficiaries is expected and encouraged. Therefore, INR 4,000 is contributed by the beneficiary households in the form of shramdan.  Hence, the overall financial cost met by IDRF is INR 16,000 for each sanitation unit. Mr. Madhu Basu, ERDS was invited by W.Bengal radio on April 20, 2017 to talk about their ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ programs.

Construction of Sanitation Units

The families for which the sanitation units have already been constructed are showing a marked difference in their health and hygiene conditions in the period before and after the construction. There seems to be an increase in their level of self-confidence and dignity. One beneficiary also mentioned that after the construction of a sanitation unit for their family, they are able to spend more money on food. As earlier they had to spend more money on doctors’ fees and medicines due to several recurring diseases like diarrhea, intestinal worms, and hookworms that cause malnutrition, etc.

Finished Sanitation Unit for a Family in Malda


Please click on the following links to see ERDS’s successful implementation of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Indian PM Narendra Modi.

Also click on this link to see some interesting figures associated with the Swachh Bharat Mission on this Dashboard- maintained by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India.