This entry is for the wonderful initiative by Domex, #ToiletForBabli, in association with Indiblogger.
For many of us, it is unthinkable. But for many others, it’s a way of life. The figures, shocking as they might be, scream out the ugly truth too loud for us to ignore any more – an astounding number of 620 million Indians defecate in the open every day, amounting to 50% of the total Indian population! So, for each one of you reading this post, there is one person who is exposing himself to severe unhygienic conditions and deadly diseases at this very moment.
Defecating in open has several implications, each more dangerous than the other. To begin with, it defaces our beautiful country, makes it ugly and dirty, and repulses prospective tourists. But that is the least of the evils of open defecation. Its most dangerous effect is the number of diseases it spreads. Defecating in a dirty place, used for the same reason for a hundred others, leads to severe (often fatal) genitals-related diseases and infections. This is especially threatening for pregnant women.
Even after being accepted by so many millions of people as a normal everyday task, it doesn’t reduce its nasty role of challenging the dignity of people, especially women. It is not something that they should learn to get used to, but something that should be eradicated at the earliest.
Surprisingly, though it may seem so at first glance, this shocking number of people defecating in public doesn’t necessarily point to lack of toilets. In fact, reports point out that out of the 888 million population inhabiting rural India, 490 million actually have access to toilets, but a vast majority of them choose not to use them.
The reason for this, again, is multi-fold. First of all, very little budget is allocated for these projects by the Government. As a result, even if the toilets are built, very soon they become dysfunctional. That, coupled with improper maintenance, render them unusable, and people have no choice but to go back to open defecation. Sometimes, the funds change hands and become untraceable, the toilets existing only in paper.
A bigger menace in the way of eradicating open defecation is lack of awareness and education. Many people are used to it and not aware of the severe health hazards of the same. As a result, they are reluctant to switch to proper sanitation, due to inhibitions, lack of interest or simply because of a fear of trying out something new. Consequently, there is no demand for proper sanitation from them, and these projects get pushed back. It takes months of training and awareness programs to prompt people in rural India to start using proper toilets. And often, there is inadequate time, effort or personnel to complete the job.
The new Government is optimistic that it should be able to eradicate this menace in the next five years, and that, over this time, India would see a marked improvement in sanitation. A large budget is underway for the same. We can only hope that a sincere effort from the Government towards not just building toilets but ensuring their proper maintenance, as well as spread of awareness and education about their use, coupled with cooperation from the Indian nationals, would put an end to this shameful situation.
You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.