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.”
Read the complete article.
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.
Published on Dec 15, 2016
Dr Papiya Guha Mazumdar, Associate Professor, Institute of Public Health Kalyani, West Bengal delivered lecture and highlighted the need to improve existing sanitation and hygiene situation in urban India, how the determinants should be decided and why behaviour change as a critical determinant needs to be looked at in greater detail.
She emphasized that building knowledge on good practices of sanitation and hygiene related behaviour change, and drawing relevant lessons for preparing a plan of action for sustainable development is extremely important. She discussed through a few good case studies how interventions have helped.
How a Bunch of College Kids Made Two Delhi Slums Become Almost Completely Open Defecation Free. The Better India, Jan 3, 2017.
Enactus is a global non-profit organisation run by students at individual university and college levels committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better and more sustainable world. In India, Enactus is active in more than 150 colleges and universities involving more than 4,300 students working on nearly 122 projects across the country. The SSCBS Enactus team comprises of 70 students, of which 20 are directly involved in Project Raahat.
In a bid to prevent open defecation and usher in hygiene and cleanliness among slum-dwellers of New Delhi, a group of college students have initiated a unique campaign that has brought down the open defecation rates in some slums from 95% to 3%.
Had you visited or wandered close to the slums in Sultanpuri and Kirti Nagar in New Delhi a year ago, you would have witnessed a common and appalling sight of slum-dwellers walking into open fields with a tin can to relieve themselves. You might have walked past stinky toilet complexes lying vandalized with broken, leaky walls, and pipes. But not anymore!
Thanks to a group of enterprising college students from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS), Delhi University, the open defecation rates in these slums have come down from 95% to a mere 3% in just one year.
Read the complete article.
Ending open defecation: The drive must go beyond mascots, jingles – even toilets. Scroll.In, January 3, 2017.
Image credit: NDMC handout
Even as Mumbai enlists the star power of Salman Khan to end open defecation and Delhi has its turbaned Swachh Sewak mascots patrolling the streets, whistling at and fining the guilty, the underlying lacunae that make people defecate in the open see little discussion and go almost completely unaddressed. A problem that should not take more than a year to be solved nationally, if addressed in mission mode, drags on through one scheme after the other.
The populist efforts are driven more by the aim of safeguarding the sensibilities of the privileged than out of a feeling of empathy for those who must go through the indignity of open defecation. A sincere desire to solve the problem is wanting. The Swachh Bharat Mission makes the right noises but lacks in empowering municipal officials adequately. Nice videos and musical jingles can only take you so far. The real difference comes from silent work carried out by a taskforce staffed with deeply committed and talented people.
In the urban context, especially, the issue becomes more complex. Land is scarce and has higher economic value, and urban planning and equitable housing policies have been neglected for a very long time. Open defecation arises from a neglect of these fundamental issues rather than just from the absence of adequate toilets. While we decide what we want to do with planning and governing our cities better, in the interim, it should not be difficult to construct a high number of high quality toilets, which become a natural attraction for those defecating in the open.
Read the complete article.