Toilet: A Need Before Prayer…


“The world is so crazy that they declare and dedicate a complete day on very shitty-witty things. Now they are up to World’s Toilet day on 19th November. Talking of such thing in itself stinks. UUUUUaaaaawwwwwkkkkkkk ‼‼‼‼‼‼‼‼!”

But I don’t think so and would like to change your perspective through this blog.

I am raising concern about more toilet than any devotional center not because I am atheist but because I have myself felt the significance of toilet.

This experience goes back to a month ago when our family decided to visit temple of Sai baba on Vijaya Dashmi of durga puja. We got ready to move out to temple and within an hour we were at the temple. The temple is in construction phase in middle of a residing colony. The trustee of the temple had acquired spacious area and it is surrounded by open ground from three sides and a road in front of it. By the time we offered prayer a strong desire for relieve came to me. I searched for the defined location for the act but couldn’t find any in the sight. Now, instead of praising god I was admiring Dr. Jairam Naresh of his thought. The moment proved that India needs more toilet than temple. Even God didn’t helped me to control myself. On searching I found one far away at corner and without having a thought of hygiene I relieved myself. I felt a heartily gratitude for the administrator of the temple to give importance to this shitty thing. Also hygiene and sanitation was maintained. I wish our honorable political leaders who curse Dr. Ramesh over his statement don’t have to face this situation.

I can date back to one more incident during my school days when we were attending NCC camp. One strong challenge that needs to be tackled of these camps is sanitation facility. Most of the cadets belong to rural background and find ease and comfort to defecate in open. In a camp of 10 days I also got motivated to have the experience of open nature. Early in the morning at dark rainy day with a torch some of us went for the expedition. The scary sound of dogs, the stridulation of insects was not less than a haunted experience. The fear of snake, jackal and other wild creatures were at the peak. The moment made to control oneself and rush back and for the day valve was air tight‼ In the evening during sharing hours one of the cadet told that he had to run half naked when a jackal was coming towards him. From that day onward I didn’t had courage to repeat the act again.

This is very grave problem India is facing and not a matter to laugh on the experience. 68.3 Crore (around 64%) of the Indian population are prone to this incident daily. Half of them are female. Open defecation is also reason for death cause due to snake/scorpion bite. 40000 people die of snake bite but only 2000 are reported and there didn’t exist any report of the time and location of the snake bite. But it can be very well assumed more than 40% may be during the morning expedition. This menace had also affected security and safety of rural and underprivileged urban females. Most of the rape cases and sexual assault that happens occurs during this period, but that go unreported. The Indian police system didn’t bother to report such incident in rural areas and also rural population is still appended to the social stigma in reporting the matter. In order to not to arrive at a situation to relieve herself they drink limited quantity of water and only at specified time. The usual problems associated with drinking less water are headaches, poor concentration, tiredness, lethargy, irritability, higher risk of developing kidney infections, bladder cancer, urinary tract infections, constipation, dry skin and bad breath. The open defecation in villages is also a major cause for water borne diseases like diarrhea, cholera etc. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 88% of diarrhea cases worldwide are linked to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene. People in rural areas still prefer open fields to defecate as they think that it keeps the lands fertile. But, when this waste flows down to rivers and lakes during the time of rains, the local villagers and urban India receives the same contaminated water. Now, this contaminated water spreads various water borne diseases. Open defecation is not only limited to health issue instead it is also affecting infrastructure. A government panel report mentions that human waste from open-discharge toilets used by passengers is damaging railway tracks as the PH value found in human urine and excreta is leading to corrosion of tracks.

Only 46.9 per cent of the total 246.6 million households have toilet facilities. Of the rest, 3.2 per cent use public toilets. And 49.8 per cent ease themselves in the open. In stark contrast, 63.2 per cent of the households own a telephone connection — 53.2 per cent of mobile phones. The situation is worse in the villages, where two-thirds of the homes don’t have toilets. There are other interesting behavioural and cultural pointers: Sikh and Christian households had the highest – over 70% – access to improved sanitation. Hindus – at 45% – had the least access. This way India tops in open defecation while China and Indonesia share the second place with just 5% of their population not having toilets. Pakistan and Ethiopia are third with 4.5% such people.

In 2003, the government kicked off a scheme to award village councils which are able to eliminate open defecation. Kerala has been the best performer with 87% of its village councils picking up the award. Only 2% of councils in dirt-poor Bihar won in a dismal commentary on the state of its sanitation. On a positive front, Sikkim has become the first ‘Nirmal Rajya’, i.e.100 percent open defecation-free state in the country with Kerala and Himachal Pradesh following the same footsteps.

I think, by this time you might have perception that these illiterate and poor people are making a foul name of our country then I have an example- What does a rich and educated person who takes his pet outside in the street for defecation need?? This challenge cannot be handled only by government led program of providing more number of toilets but education, motivation and awareness to people is needed to change their behavior with regard to open defecation. Ultimately, it is mindset and the habits that need to be changed.

One of the significant causes for open defecation in rural area or urban slum is problem of adequate water facility. A well furnished toilet requires around 6 to 8 litre of water in contrast to 1-2 litre for open defecation. This problem needs a strong attention if we have to curb this menace. Another cause may be people who live in crowded slums, sometimes right next to open sewer lines, don’t build toilets as space is a premium and its not cheap to build one nor it is possible to get sewer lines to these almost always illegally constructed homes.

MNREGA can play a major role in the mission to provide toilet facility in every village. Instead of constructing irrelevant concrete the scheme should concentrate on constructing basic needs. The mobile toilet van can also be a great solution in urban slums. Thanks to Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak who noticed this malady much earlier and ended up with solution of Sulabh Shauchalaya. A documentary of it is embedded down below, please spare you 4 minutes.

Hope the WORLD TOILET DAY brings a big awareness about the importance of adequate toilet facility in our life.

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Posted on November 18, 2012, in Social issues. and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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