India, Andhra Pradesh: Why families choose toilets – to protect older parents and younger daughters

Why do families build toilets? If the family tradition for many generations has been to defecate in the open – using local woods or accepted sites, then what is the incentive to make a break and opt for a toilet instead?

Concern for daughters and for elderly relatives are two factors often mentioned by families as motivating factors, especially as ‘safe’ places to defecate outside disappear.

In Venkatapuram village in the Kammam District of Andhra Pradesh Suresh added a toilet to his home in the 1990s, mostly because of concern about his mother, Rangamma. “The biggest difficulty was that my mother had to go a long distance to find a place. It was really getting very difficult.”

Suresh and his mother outside their home in Venkatapuram with the toilet that he built. Photo: WASHCost/IRC

Data from both the WASHCost project and the (new) Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation show that existing government norms underestimate the real cost of toilets. Subsidies for the poor, which are supposed to cover 90% of toilet costs in reality cover less than 40%. Poor families are either stuck with half-built, unused toilets, or have to take out a considerable loan to finish them. Replacing subsidies by low interest or no interest loans may be a better option as it could stimulate a market in low cost toilets.

Read the full story on the WASHCost web site [Peter McIntyre, WASHCost India/IRC, 16 Sep 2011]

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2 responses to “India, Andhra Pradesh: Why families choose toilets – to protect older parents and younger daughters

  1. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research about this.
    We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post.
    I am very glad to see such great info being shared freely out there.

  2. Nripendra Kumar Sarma, Guwahati, Assam, India

    The situation, arising out of the Govt. subsidy not covering the real cost of individual household toilet, may perhaps be avoided by standardising the specification of the toilet to be constructed as per area specific market price.
    That is why, the system of paying Govt. subsidy to he household owner for toilet construction is not in practice in some states in India and rather some village based CBOs / NGOs / SHGs etc. are engaged to construct such toilets as per standard specification by encouraging the household owners to contribute their beneficiary share as fixed by Govt.. Such beneficiary share is contributed either in cash of kinds. After completion of the toilet construction, the organisations are paid the subsidy amount. In case of any improvisation of the toilet construction as desired by the household owner, it is taken up from the enhanced beneficiary contribution.
    Moreover, cost of construction of one toilet is always likely to be more as compared to the average cost of construction of more Nos of toilets. So the village based organisations, taking up the construction of toilets in a lot in an area, do not face the shortage of fund to construct the toilet as per standard specification. But in case of individual construction of toilet, the Beneficiary may face the situation of shortage of Govt. subsidy to meet the cost of construction.
    Thanking you.
    Regards.

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