Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our Nation, one stated that good sanitation is much more important than Independence. Almost 150 years later, Our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi now says that building toilets is a priority over building temples. Hopefully, with active initiatives led by the central government, one can hope to see an Open-Defecation free India in a decade or lesser. Although a highly touchy subject, it is about time the issue is addressed. According to Wikipedia, over 15% of the World’s population practise open defecation, and India is the country with the highest number of people doing so. (Image Courtesy-riceinstitute.org)
Open Defecation, especially in highly populated rural neighborhoods can pose significant health risks to children and adults alike. Faecal matter in the open, may easily penetrate ground water, contaminate rivers and other water bodies, causing multi-various diseases including diarrhoea, cholera, etc. Ingested bacteria also spreads diseases, especially of the intestine. In a country like ours with very high population density, it is next to impossible to contain open faeces from coming in contact with water/wells/crops etc and this makes the goal of eradicating open-defecation a million times more important.
It also is closely linked to Public safety-stories of women being raped/assaulted in communal toilets/when they go out in the darkness looking for private spots in the open, especially in states like Uttar Pradesh, are not unheard of. It also is a question of One’s dignity being at stake.
But what really drives people to practise Open defecation-Is it merely the lack of toilets or the lack of toilets that are clean enough or because it isn’t safe to walk 500m in the dark to the closest public toilet; or is there more-like Cultural and Habitual preferences? Some studies have shown that even in households with working latrines, some people prefer to defecate in the open. Some studies have reported certain communities regarding open defecation as wholesome, healthy and social, while regarding latrines as impure.
The need of the hour then, is public awareness campaigns that stress on the benefits of good sanitation and its impact on one’s health. I believe that it is a basic right of any individual, that he/she has access to basic sanitation; just like every one must have basic access to food, water and shelter. A good start would be promoting awareness in schools across the country-across the India’s next generation of adults and leaders. Other measures to help solve this widespread problem would of course be efforts to construct more public toilets with decent facilities and an adequate number of them-so that all individuals have access to them without worrying about their safety or having to travel far to use one.
It is with this aim in Mind, that Domex has come up with this initiative that they call ‘Toilet for Babli’. Log on to www.domex.in and click on the ‘Contribute Now’ button. (Image courtesy-Indiblogger)
For every click, Domex will contribute Rs.5 towards the cause of making India’s villages Open-defecation free. Go ahead and click on the link and do your little bit. Domex currently runs the Domex Toilet Academy-that aims to make toilets accessible and affordable, while also promoting the benefits of good personal health and hygiene. Domex aims to build as many as 24000 toilets by 2015 and its efforts have already gone a long way in improving the lives of thousands of villagers across Maharashtra and Orissa. Kudos to you, Domex! And I hope other similar companies/institutions can contribute to solve this growing problem. I am going to try and do all that i can to help the cause. You should too. We all should.
This blogpost was written as part of the Indiblogger Campaign. Look up #ToiletForBabli on twitter to learn more.