Today news is restricted to scandals and debates on government's inability to fulfill promises. Ignorance of fundamental issues, cultural bias and the general ignorance of society is devastating. But what measures can change the insight of the biased people. Today where people below poverty line have limited access to basic facilities of food, clothing, and shelter, building toilets is a distant dream. Poor are forced to defecate in the open recent awareness drive with Vidya Balan as the brand ambassador with slogan "Jahan Soch Wahan Sauchalaya.'' has given a boost to cognizance of ill effects of open sanitation but failed to build them for sanitation purpose.
The Indian government in its Swaksha Bharat Abhiyaan has objectives to change people’s attitudes to sanitation and create awareness promote healthy habits.
On Monday in Nalgonda district of Telangana 17-year-old teenager allegedly committed suicide, because her parents failed to build a toilet in the house. The deceased teenager was forced to defecate in the open and also forced to bath in makeshift tents, making her feel remorseful. The girl's parents are day laborers who were not in a position to afford to build a toilet. Open air defecation is naturalism? Where eve teasings are of frequent encounter as the safety and privacy of women suffers.
Disadvantages of open air defecation:
Our country's rural areas and city slums dwellers who have no means of sanitation are forced to defecate in the open of which the numbers of are too high. It is estimated about 60 million people or 65 percent of the population defecate in open places. The damages are countless. Open air defecation causes serious health, personal security and privacy issues.
Health ill-effects associated with open air defecation:
Open air defecation, lack of general sanitation and hygiene leads to various diseases, especially diarrhea and intestinal infections and also typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, polio, trachoma and other diseases. It also leads to malnutrition and stunted growth in children. Some diseases are transmitted through faecal pathogens via water and are known to be waterborne infections. Infected surface water wells and hand pumps may cause serious health hazards.
Open air defecation is major cause of diarrheal deaths. WHO in 2014 found in a research that death of children up-to 5years is approximately 2,000 per day from diarrhea, which makes it a prime salient killer.
Children abstain from practicing hand washing and faeco-oral spread is very common occurrence. Open air defecation puts children at great risk of disease spread by faeco-oral route. Practice of hand washing with soap to avoid infection is of paramount importance also in adults to prevent the spread of disease. Open defecation becomes a mammoth problem in places where the population density very high. Provisions should be made in such areas so that Open defecation is not practiced in the urban slums.
Security and impacts on women:
Purdah system is forced on women living in conservative cultures but double standards of sex differentiation where women are asked to defecate in open. It also causes a big issue of safety of women as sexual crimes in such places is not unheard of. It also causes barrier in girls education as the events of aggravation and eve-teasings impose ban on academic credentials and seeps down banning studies and ceasing women liberalization.
To setup an Indian style research cum action latrine or RCA latrine costs around ₹5000-7500. Public toilets are usually a failure as the maintenance is a tough job and sparsely practiced. Key drivers that may help eradicate open defecation are:
* The awareness drives focus on behavior change and broadening the thought process of the rural India. It gives a better outlook to people and is a necessity.
* Research of better Sanitation solutions that offer a better value than current modalities.
* Strengthening the panchayats NGO's and private sector participations to give better and an accurate local service delivery system.
* Political will is an important determinant for checking dedication of government towards prevention of open defecation and implementation of its strategies to provide better sanitation facilities.
* Creating a right incentive structures which may be linked to AADHAR cards for people who volunteer for making latrine in their households.
By: Dr. Rajan Pandey
M.B.B.S., M.D. Radio-Diagnosis(schol.),
an avid wanderlust blogger, an aspiring columnist and a social reformist