Sanitation in India is on the highest priority list for Government these days. India is now being called as Land of Opportunities but does India still believe in using the same land for open defecation? Let’s find out why only building toilets cannot help India make the much-needed shift from using open areas to closed toilets and why we and Government need to focus on other aspects to help India go “Open-Defecation free” by 2025.
Basic Sanitation Facts:
Let’s start with some basic overview of the facts and figures:
- In rural areas – 45.3% households reported having sanitary toilets
- In Urban Areas – 88.8% households reported having sanitary toilets
Sikkim tops the list of most toilets in rural areas ( 98.2% of households in rural Sikkim have sanitary toilets) while Jharkhand reported the least number of sanitary toilets (18.8%) .
In Urban areas, Mizoram and Uttarakhand,100% households have toilets while Jharkhand again is on the bottom of the list with 77.7% households having sanitary toilets.
Water and Sanitation
India believes in using water to clean up the mess and hence water available for use in toilets is an important factor.
As the chart above indicates that only 42.5% of rural households and 87.9% urban households have access to water for use in toilets. Hence providing access to water for toilet use should be the focus point for our Government, especially in rural areas, which will then lead to people using more toilets rather than defecating in the open. Central and State Govts must work to set up heavy duty water-recycling plants in every village/district in India. These recycled water can be then utilized and sent to households as toilet usable water.
But, this is not the only step. The government should approve only those architect plans which offer separate water storage and distribution infrastructure for water to be used in toilets.
Why? – Because then the recycled water can be directly sent to such storage tanks and distributed accordingly bifurcating clean water and recycled water. This also helps save a lot of clean & usable water getting flushed into toilets.
Wait, But What About Open-Defecation ?
Well…Everything above looked positive until I saw these figures. It may not be surprising though but the statistics say loud and Clear – “India Still defecates in Open”
The above survey results state that 55.4% of rural population of its sample size still defecates in open. Out of the 121 crore Indians, 83.3 crores live in rural areas. ie, 68% of the population lives in rural India. Which means, a majority of India still defecates in open. This is shocking indeed because you, me and others reading this might have never defecated in open in our lifetime and will be in illusion that defecating in India has reduced.
But which age group is to be blamed for such unhealthy practices?
Children top the list with 56.6%(rural) and 10.1%(urban) defecating in open. But are they to be blamed? Parents need to put in the habit of making them use toilets. The ratio among senior citizens, adult men and women is almost similar. Hence, on a larger perspective, it’s not the specific age or gender to be blamed, most people still defecate in the open – following age old practice.
It’s time to isolate the people within the community who defecate in an open space. Sarpanchs across India, ARE you listening?
Sanitation’s Last Cycle: Disposal and Sewage
While I talked about water recycling, distribution, storage, toilets, and mindsets – I cannot conclude this post unless I talk about disposal and sewage infrastructure in India.
In shocking facts revealed, 44.4% across India do not have ANY arrangement to dispose drainage water, which means it ends up flowing up on the streets. Yes, close to half of India does not have proper disposal infrastructure and hence, this is where Government of India needs to focus in coming years. The next major source of disposal is Nallah or local pond (total 39.8%) where the drainage water flows in- Most of them untreated!!
Around 43.6% India does not have sewer network at all !!! However, India has a big dumping place for solid waste(64.2%).
India needs to focus on below pain points:
- Focus on toilet-water infrastructure – separate storage and distribution
- Install more sewer pipelines and efficient drainage system.
- Water treatment plans before draining water into ponds/lakes/rivers
- Social isolation for people defecating in Open
- Awareness programs and incentivized system for using community/household toilets
Let’s keep our differences aside and unite to make India Open-Defecation free by 2025.
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