Wednesday, August 29, 2012



Is anybody really surprised that nearly half of India’s 1.2 billion people have no toilet at home?
Not really. The India Human Development report has been saying this for a while. The situation is worse in the villages, where two-thirds of the homes don’t have toilets. Open defecation is rife, and remains a major impediment in achieving millennium development goals which include reducing by half the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation by 2015.
Is the lack of toilets and preference for open defecation a cultural issue in a society where the habit actually perpetuates social oppression, as proved by the reduced but continued existence of low caste human scavengers and sweepers?

India census: more people have a mobile phone than a household toilet

Of 246.6 million households, 49.8% forced to used outdoor facilities. 52% of the total population owns a mobile phone. Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar the worst for access to toilets. Change in family nucleus: now 70% of homes are occupied by couples.
In India, about half the population has no toilet at home, but has at least one mobile phone. This is shown by the last census (Census 2011) of the Government. With a total population of 1.2 billion people, of about 246.6 million families, only 46.9% can "boast" of having an in house toilet, 49.8%, are mostly slum dwellers and are forced to relive themselves in the open air, the remaining 3.2% use public services. However, 52% of Indians - including those in cities, villages and slums - has a cell phone. The data reveals a society split in half, in which millions of people have access to modern technologies and consumer goods, while a large proportion of the population can not enjoy even basic services.
The processed data from the 2011 census has also registered a change in family composition: 70% of the houses consist of a single couple. A real breakthrough for India, which traditionally has a large family nucleus, even 15-20 people including parents, children, grandparents, uncles and aunts.

Sanitation & Education
Almost 2.5 billion people, two in every five people in the world, lack adequate sanitation, with children being one of the largest groups affected by this basic human need. Not only can the lack of adequate sanitation enable disease to impede a child’s health and physical development, it can also prevent the child from attending school. Hundreds of millions of school days are lost each year due to water-related illness.

Worldwide there are 120 million primary school-aged children not attending school. Many of them are unable to attend because their schools or homes lack basic sanitation facilities, and the majority of them are girls. Sanitation is a key factor in keeping girls in school. Over half of the girls in sub-Saharan Africa who drop out of primary school do so because of poor water and sanitation facilities. Often girls are forced to drop out of school or miss school once they reach puberty due to a lack of separate latrine facilities and sanitary supplies.

No water, no toilet: 95% schools in India lack RTE infrastructure
A review of the legislation’s implementation by the Right to Education Forum, a civil society collective comprising around 10,000 NGOs and three networks, has shown that while some progress has been made in implementing the act, it is far from adequate. The report reveals that 95.2 percent of schools are not compliant with the complete set of RTE infrastructure indicators, and in 2009-10 only 4.8 percent of government schools had all infrastructure facilities stipulated under the RTE Act.

Under the act, schools must have basic infrastructure facilities like an all-weather building with at least one classroom for every teacher and an office for the head teacher. A separate toilet each for girls and boys, a playground and a library for every school with sufficient reading material, electrification of the school building, ramp access for disabled students, and computers are some of the basic requirements that have been recommended under the act. The report, however, shows that one in 10 schools lack drinking water facilities, 40 percent lack a functional common toilet while another 40 percent lack a separate toilet for girls.

Sanitation & Women
Over one billion women and girls live without access to basic sanitation. Lack of sanitation is detrimental not only to women’s health but also to their education, community status, and sense of dignity. With improved sanitation, women experience improved health and well-being.

Most women without access to basic sanitation, such as a hygienic latrine, must wait for nightfall and an empty field in order to defecate in private, a practice which has serious side effects. Waiting so long to defecate leads to increased chances for urinary tract infections, chronic constipation, and psychological stress. Women who go out alone at night are also at risk of physical and sexual assault
Menstruation, pregnancy, and postnatal recovery also become problematic if there are not adequate facilities to properly manage them. Many girls are forced to leave school once they reach puberty simply because there are no facilities or supplies made accessible to them, and those who choose to stay enrolled often miss class during their menstrual cycle, making it harder for them to succeed academically.
Many women are leading efforts in their communities to gain access to adequate sanitation. Women play a vital role in raising awareness about sanitation issues in their communities, and improved water and sanitation sources are the first step to empowering women in developing countries.

Sanitation & the Environment
In developing nations, nearly all sewage systems are being emptied into rivers, lakes, and nearby streams that communities use for drinking water. Along with polluting drinking water sources, discharging untreated sewage pollutes the environment and affects plant and aquatic life.

Improving sanitation improves the environment by safely disposing human waste and creates healthier living conditions for plants, animals, and humans. If the 2.5 billion people presently living without adequate sanitation gain access to even a simple latrine, environmental sustainability and health will improve dramatically.

“Sanitation is more important than independence” Mahatma Gandhi
• Only 20% of urban population in India has access to flush toilets, connected to a sewerage system.
• Only 4% have water toilets connected to septic tanks
• 33% have bucket latrines
• 33% have no access to any kind of toilet facility
• In rural India, nearly 89% of the population or about 750 million people which is more than the population of Europe defecate in the open and expose themselves to various diseases, nudity and humiliation
•  India is faced with the formidable task of handling 900 million liters of urine and 135 million kg of faceal matter per day with a totally inadequate system of collection and disposal
• Low sanitation coverage in India is primarily due to insufficient awareness of people and the lack of affordable sanitation technology.
• 80% of the population has been covered under safe drinking water program but water borne diseases have not come down for want of sanitation
• The stinking unclean garbage heaps, a large number of people defecating in the open or urinating up the walls indicate bad health of the people living in a decaying society.
• People in the villages consider defecating in the open a healthy practice. A common misconception in villages is that toilets are an urban necessity because there is not much space available for defecating in the open.
• Once girls reach puberty, lack of access to sanitation becomes a central cultural and human health issue, contributing to female illiteracy and low levels of education, in turn contributing to a cycle of poor health for pregnant women and their children.
•By simply providing a separate latrine facility for girls, school enrollment rates for girls have been shown to improve by over 15 percent.
•2.6 billion people - 72 percent and 21 percent of whom live in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, respectively - do not use improved sanitation facilities. Improved sanitation facilities ensure hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
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