Open Defecation vs. Community Toilets: A Complicated Choice. Global Waters, February 6, 2017.
She told us all to just forget it. I didn’t catch her name, I just watched her adjust the microphone and stand on tiptoes at the podium. Her grey hair peeked out from behind and she sounded frustrated.
A poster showing good hand washing practices outside a community toilet in Delhi. Photo Credit: USAID/India
Forget the security. It won’t make a difference. Forget the caretakers and the cleaning supplies. We don’t need those. We just want sewer lines in our communities. That’s enough now. We want to use a toilet in our home.
The other women in the audience clearly agreed given the loud burst of applause when she mentioned sewer lines. Instead, she has a community toilet; that or the choice of squatting somewhere out in the open. Choosing between defecating in the open or using a community toilet is layered with far more complexities than I’d understood before.
My colleagues and I from USAID/India were spending the day at a workshop organized by our partner, Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE). They’re in the early stages of a behavior change communication study that will help us understand why, even with access to community toilets, open defecation is still happening. There were about 100 people living in five slums across Delhi who had given up their day to tell us.
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Do it differently: Toilets are not enough to achieve sanitation, India must reinvent the waste business. by Sunita Narain, Times of India, February 11, 2017.
The most important programme of this government is Clean India – not just of corruption, but of the muck and filth that is taking over our rivers, our air and our cities.
But equally (and more) important is the agreement that this ‘cleaning’ up is not possible unless we can provide every Indian with toilets that work and toilets that are connected to systems that will safely dispose human excreta, to prevent further pollution of our environment and create another source of bad health.
This agenda is therefore, not just about building toilets but about building sanitation systems that are affordable by all. Only when growth is affordable and inclusive can it be sustainable.
But this is where the opportunity also lies in doing things differently. Till now, the paradigm for urban sanitation has been costly. It has been based on the idea that building toilets is enough to clean the country.
But the excreta sums of different cities, or what we call the city’s “shit-flow” diagram, shows that the situation is grim. Today’s cities do not treat or safely dispose the bulk of human excreta generated.
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5 Offbeat Toilets India Should Adopt To Fight Sanitation Problems. Swach India, February 2017.
In the era of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, issues like open defecation and human waste are getting attention from a large section of our society. Building public toilets that not only define innovation but are also user friendly and cost effective is the need of the hour. In our country 47 percent of people still defecate in the open, and these creative ideas can definitely fight this social problem.
Here is a list of 5 innovative toilets that India can adopt to address the problems of sanitation.
Solar Powered Urine Diversion (SPUD) Toilets: Having the qualities of affordability, and user-friendly, this toilet is 100% waterless and chemical-free and can be easily installed in rural parts of India. Highlight- Human waste turns into manure.
Portable Tent Toilets: It’s an earth friendly, convenient and portable solution to open defecation in slums. The waste is collected in a biodegradable bag that contains ‘ChemiSan,’ a material that helps to deodorize and decompose the waste. Highlight- Helps in saving water.
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Experts come up with better ways to promote sanitation in India.
School toilets, West Bengal, India, Photo: Stef Smits/India
India is home to the largest numbers of open defecators in the world. Over the last few decades the government has implemented national programmes, which attempted to address this complex challenge. The demand for sanitation, meaning a genuine demand for toilets and actual use, hasn’t been encouraging. In October 2014, the government launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), a national programme to eliminate open defecation by 2019. SBM has a rural (gramin) and an urban subcomponent.
Dialogue on behaviour change communication
On 23 September 2016, experts met in New Delhi to discuss how behaviour change communication (BCC) can best help to achieve India’s sanitation goals. They were invited by the India Sanitation Coalition, TARU and IRC to take part in “Insights: WASH Dialogues on Sanitation Promotion and Behavioural Science“.
When we set out to improve life for others without a fundamental understanding of their point of view and quality of experience, we do more harm than good (Lauren Reichelt, 2011)
Sector experts and experts involved in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in sanitation, argued that it is crucial not just to look at how behaviour change interventions work, but also to understand what doesn’t work. There is general agreement that “soft interventions” are important at the community level to ensure that toilets are not just built but also used. Despite all the investments in sanitation over the years, little has been achieved in sanitation. There seems to be a gap between the planning of behaviour change communication interventions and how they are actually implemented.
Toilets with plastic bottles? IIT-Madras students show the way. Times of India, January 22, 2017.
- The method involves using discarded PET bottles filled with savudu sand (aquifer sand).
- The students built a bench using PET bottles on the IIT-M campus last month.
- SYNK, the collective behind the project, intends using it to build toilets in rural areas.
CHENNAI: A group of 13 IIT-Madras students has designed and tested a construction model using PolyEthylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles for bricks and hopes it will revolutionise future government-sponsored sanitation programmes.
SYNK, the collective behind the project, intends using it to build toilets in rural areas. It can help reduce plastic waste, said manager Arpan Paul.
The method involves using discarded PET bottles filled with savudu sand (aquifer sand). “This is not construction grade sand. The type we used for our experiment is what you would find at a landfill,” said W Keerthana, a students. A little water poured into the PET bottle is drained and then filled with sand to make it strong like a brick.
As a test, the students built a bench using PET bottles on the IIT-M campus last month. “We sourced 3500 plastic bottles from nearly 10 restaurants in Velachery and Adyar,” said Paul, adding that the method is cost effective and quick. “It cost us around Rs 4,000 to procure the sand.”
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Exploring “The Remote” and “The Rural”: Open Defecation and Latrine Use in Uttarakhand, India. World Development, January 2017. Authors: Kathleen O’Reilly, Richa Dhanju, Abhineety Goel.
- Remote places are different than rural places due to physical and social distance.
- Remoteness significantly contributes to practices of open defecation.
- Structural inequalities produce conditions that impede sanitation uptake.
- Addressing infrastructural causes of remoteness is key to reducing open defecation.
- Reducing multi-scalar, socio-spatial inequalities can lead to latrine adoption.
Open defecation is a major global health problem. The number of open defecators in India dwarfs that of other states, and most live in rural places. Open defecation is often approached as a problem scaled at the site of the individual, who makes a choice not to build and/or use a toilet.
Attempts to end rural open defecation by targeting individuals, like social marketing or behavior change approaches, often ignore the structural inequalities that shape rural residents’ everyday lives. Our study explores the question, “What is the role of remoteness in sustaining open defecation in rural India?” We deploy the concept of remoteness as an analytical tool that can capture everyday practices of open defecation as a function of physical and social distance.
Using ethnographic methods, we interviewed and observed 70 participants in four villages in Uttarakhand, India over a three-month period in 2013. We find that remoteness in general, and its lived nuances, form a context for prevalent open defecation. Structural inequalities across space will need to be addressed to make latrine building and usage viable in remote places.