Monday January 22, 2018
Home India Building Comm...

Building Community Toilets cannot counter open defecation in Rural India: WHO

The mere availability of government-built latrines will not end open defecation, we need awareness and education regarding this

1
//
508
Children in slum in India. Wikimedia
Republish
Reprint

Sept 21, 2016: A new World Health Organisation (WHO) report concludes that more than half of the Indian population still “continue to defecate in gutters, behind bushes or in open water bodies, with no dignity or privacy”.

And how are we supposed to cure this?

Proper sanitation is a big threat to our health conditions that India’s politicians have tried tackling since ages. Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), both promised to put an end to open defecation in their 2014 general election manifestos and kept this issue as one of the most important agendas in the election.

PM Narendra Modi, once said during his election campaign, “Toilets first, temples later”.

And the former rural development minister from Congress Jairam Ramesh had also asserted on the fact that, “practising good hygiene is as important as performing good puja” ( the act of worship in Hinduism).

Well, let’s have a look at the government sanitation policy to date for a moment.

Open defecation in India is catastrophic, when done in groups. Wikimedia Commons
Open defecation in India is catastrophic when done in groups. Wikimedia

For the past 15 years, two major campaigns are into action to eradicate the issue of poor sanitation in India: the Total Sanitation Campaign and the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan. These two have been trying to improve sanitation predicament across the non-urban areas of India by building both household and community latrines, mentioned riceinstitute.org.

But despite all the efforts, there has been very slight change in our plight regarding open defecation. In fact, from 2001 to 2011, latrine coverage in rural India increased by about one percentage point each year. At this rate, it would take the concerned authorities almost 50 years to eliminate open defecation to an extent, if not completely.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

And hence, continuing with the same plan of action is, therefore, not going to help achieve the government’s goal.

According to riceinstitute.org, a broader matter of concern is public health. The issue of open defecation is catastrophic when practised by groups in close contact with each other. Because India’s population is huge, population density is alarming and growing rapidly hence it is impossible to keep human faeces from crops, wells, food, soil and children’s hands.

The ingested bacteria spread diseases, especially related to the intestine. They cause enteropathy, a chronic illness that prevents the body from absorbing calories and nutrients.

That helps to explain that in spite of rising incomes and better diets, rates of child malnourishment in India has not shown much improve.

UN’s agency for children, the UNICEF has estimated that nearly one-half of Indian children remain malnourished.

Pouring concrete will not solve India’s problems. Leaders and political organisations also need to confront the cultural and archaic reasons responsible for bad sanitation.

Eradicating open defecation from Indian society requires changing minds, not just allocating money to building latrines for people that will either go unused or not be built at all.

Under the current sanitation policy, there is a provision for Information, Education, and Communication, (IEC) but the spending on such activities is restricted to 15 percent of the whole budget signalling that it should be considered secondary to latrine construction.

Consequently, only six per cent of the total sanitation budget has been spent on IEC to date. Instead of capping the IEC budget, the government should be prioritising it, because awareness always helps.

Pieces of evidence show that India must urgently correct its cultural practices, though it is sensitive to say so. Apart from poverty and lack of lavatories, prioritising reasons often cited to explain open defecation in India is the innate cultural norm making the practice socially acceptable in some parts of the society. Researchers found that only a quarter of rural householders understood that washing hands help prevent diarrhoea.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

This suggests that the mere availability of government-built latrines will not end open defecation. The need of the hour is the public campaigns, in schools and in the media, to explain the hygienic and fiscal benefaction of using toilets.

A catchy animated music video put out by UNICEF urges Indians to “take the poo to the loo”. The intention is right, even if the dancing turds will not immediately be to everyone’s taste.

Such campaigns not only mean that government-built latrines will possess a better chance of being used; they would also encourage households to build them for themselves.

– prepared by Arya Sharan of NewsGram. Twitter: @NoOffense9

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    The need for sanitation awareness is not taken up enough in our country although it is equally if not more important than other issues like education and such

Next Story

69,000 babies born on New Year’s day in India: Unicef

0
//
24
69,000 babies born on New Year's day in India: Unicef
69,000 babies born on New Year's day in India: Unicef. wikimedia commons
United Nations, Jan 2, 2018: The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has estimated that nearly 386,000 babies were born on New Year’s Day, with India heading the list with 69,070.
More than 90 percent of the births took place in less developed regions, reports Xinhua news agency.
The Unicef reported that globally over half the births were estimated to have taken place in nine countries: India (69,070), China (44,760), Nigeria (20,210), Pakistan (14,910), Indonesia(13,370), the US (11,280), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (9,400), Ethiopia (9,020) and Bangladesh (8,370).
Among those children, some will unfortunately not make it past their first day.
In 2016, an estimated 2,600 children died within the first 24 hours every day of the year. Unicef said that for almost two million newborns, their first week was also their last.
In all, 2.6 million children died before the end of their first month. Among them, more than 80 percent died from preventable and treatable causes such as premature birth, complications during delivery and infections like sepsis and pneumonia.
Over the past two decades, the world has seen unprecedented progress in child survival, halving the number of children worldwide who die before their fifth birthday to 5.6 million in 2016.
But despite these advances, there has been slower progress for newborns. Babies dying in the first month account for 46 percent of all deaths among children under five.
Next month, Unicef will launch “Every Child Alive,” a global campaign to demand and deliver affordable, quality health care solutions for every mother and newborn.
These solutions include a steady supply of clean water and electricity at health facilities, presence of a skilled health attendant during birth, disinfecting the umbilical cord, breastfeeding within the first hour after birth and skin-to-skin contact between the mother and child. (IANS)