Pathak, who founded the Sulabh Sanitation Movement in India in 1970, has worked “to improve public health, advance social progress and improve human rights in India and other countries,” the jury of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said.
“The results of Dr Pathak’s endeavours constitute one of the most amazing examples of how one person can impact the well-being of millions,” the nominating committee said in its citation.
Pathak has helped change social attitudes toward “traditional unsanitary latrine practices in slums, rural villages, and dense urban districts, and developed cost-effective toilet systems that have improved daily life and health for millions of people,” SIWI said.
The toilets require only 1.5 litres of water per use to flush, compared to 10 litres for conventional toilets, offering significant benefits in regions with water shortages.
He has also developed technologies that convert waste from toilets into biogas for heating, cooking and electricity generation.
Pathak, born in 1943, will be presented with the $150,000 prize sum and a glass sculpture during the annual World Water Week in Stockholm in August, traditionally attended by Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf.
The prize has been awarded annually since 1991 to people, institutes or organizations working to preserve water resources, improve public health and protect the ecosystem.