Tag Archives: open defecation

Casteism is the biggest impediment to success of Swachh Bharat Mission, say scholars Dean Spears, Diane Coffey

Casteism is the biggest impediment to success of Swachh Bharat Mission, say scholars Dean Spears, Diane Coffey. First Post, August 13, 2017.

Why are children in India shorter than children from other countries even those poorer than India? It was the urge to solve some of India’s development puzzles like this one that drew American scholars Dean Spears and Diane Coffey to India in 2009.

The couple co-founded the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (RICE) in 2011 and settled in Sitapur, a rural district in central Uttar Pradesh, four years ago. With a population of 4.5 million people, it is the size of Sierra Leone and Liberia and has a similar infant mortality rate. spears

“Sierra Leone and Liberia have a health ministry, education ministry, a Unicef mission; Sitapur has none of that. So it made a lot of sense to go somewhere like that and add value,” Spears stated in an earlier interview.

Spears and Coffey have a masters in public administration and completed their PhDs at the Princeton University. Spears specialised in economics and public affairs and Coffey in demography. The two met and fell in love when Spears was a teaching assistant in a statistics class where Coffey was a student. They got married in 2011.

Their research in India has established links between open defecation and high infant mortality in rural India. It has also exposed the caste prejudices that encourage open defecation. A surprising fact showed up in their study: many people in rural areas, especially in north India, choose to defecate in the open even if they have a toilet at home. Many reasoned that it was a more ‘pleasant, comfortable and convenient’ option.Their new book, Where India Goes: Abandoned Toilets, Stunted Development, and the Costs of Caste throws up many such insights that sanitation experts and administrators would never openly admit to.

Read the complete article.

Nearly a Billion People Still Defecate Outdoors. Here’s Why

Nearly a Billion People Still Defecate Outdoors. Here’s Why. Nat Geo Magazine, August 2017.

The problem isn’t just a lack of toilets—it’s a lack of toilets that people want to use. The result: millions of deaths and disease-stunted lives.

At 65, Moolchand, bandy-legged and white-haired, has no problem rising for his predawn hunts. In fact he revels in them.

“I hide along the lane with my flashlight,” he says in a low, excited voice, gesturing down the main road of Gaji Khedi village, in India’s Madhya Pradesh state. “And I look for people walking with a lota.”

At a community toilet complex in Safeda Basti, one of Delhi’s many slums, women wait their turn for the single functioning latrine—while covering their noses against the smell of feces left by someone who couldn’t wait. Many people skip the hassle of city-run facilities altogether and do their business in rubble-strewn lots.

At a community toilet complex in Safeda Basti, one of Delhi’s many slums, women wait their turn for the single functioning latrine—while covering their noses against the smell of feces left by someone who couldn’t wait. Many people skip the hassle of city-run facilities altogether and do their business in rubble-strewn lots.

A lota is a water container, traditionally made of brass but these days more often of plastic. Spied outdoors in the early morning, it all but screams that its owner is headed for a field or roadside to move his or her bowels—the water is for rinsing.

“I give chase,” Moolchand continues. “I blow my whistle, and I dump out their lota. Sometimes I take it away and burn it.” Moolchand sees himself as defending a hard-won honor: The district has declared his village “open defecation free.”

“People get angry and shout at me when I stop them,” he says. “But the government has given villagers lots of help to construct a toilet, so there is no excuse.”

Read the complete article.

In Mali, Communities Take Health and Well-Being into their Own Hands

In Mali, Communities Take Health and Well-Being into their Own Hands. Global Waters, July 18, 2017.

In the center of Simaye village in Mali’s Mopti Region, men, women, and children gather under a large tree to listen. Two USAID-trained facilitators discuss the health challenges facing the village.

Tackling open defecation in communities is a starting point for improved health. Ensuring the drinking water sources are clean is another. USAID works with local artisans in communities like Anga to repair or rehabilitate artesian drilling, such as this one, as an incentive to become ODF-certified. Photo Credit: CARE Mali

Tackling open defecation in communities is a starting point for improved health. Ensuring the drinking water sources are clean is another. USAID works with local artisans in communities like Anga to repair or rehabilitate artesian drilling, such as this one, as an incentive to become ODF-certified. Photo Credit: CARE Mali

Only three latrines serve many families, so more than half of the people are practicing open defecation; the water point no longer functions, so most families are pulling dirty water from the river; many of the infants and young children are not benefitting from exclusive breastfeeding or a diversified diet, so they are malnourished.

Holding a glass of clear water and pointing to feces on the ground, the facilitators paint a clear picture of the health risks associated with leaving feces in the open — contaminated drinking sources, diarrheal disease, and poor outcomes for children and their families.

Their objective: to trigger a sense of disgust, a determination in the community to control their own health and well-being, and to set in motion plans and solutions to create open defecation free (ODF) communities through a process known as community-led total sanitation (CLTS).

Read the complete article.

Discovering sanitation realities through rural immersions

Discovering sanitation realities through rural immersions. by Jamie Myers, CLTS, March 2017.

At the end of last year the CLTS Knowledge Hub heard that the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indore, in collaboration with UNICEF and the Government of Madhya Pradesh, were sending 630 of their first year management students to spend a week living in 157 open defecation free (ODF) villages. clts

The villages cut across 13 districts in the central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh. Students were asked to verify ODF status of villages through a household survey and early morning and evening inspections of open defecation sites. They were also tasked with collecting data on school and Anganwadi (child and mother care) centres sanitation and handwashing facilities.

The sheer number of people involved was impressive in itself as was the level of detail that could be collected in the length of time they were able to spend there. Furthermore, the fact that they would be staying overnight meant that they would be in the villages at the times when open defecation was most common, early in the morning and later in the evening. Needless to say we were excited to hear not only about their findings but also the process and methodology.

Read the complete article.

Duncan Mara – The elimination of open defecation and its adverse health effects: a moral imperative for governments and development professionals

The elimination of open defecation and its adverse health effects: a moral imperative for governments and development professionalsJournal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, February 2017. 1.cover-source

In 2015 there were 965 million people in the world forced to practise open defecation (OD). The adverse health effects of OD are many: acute effects include infectious intestinal diseases, including diarrheal diseases which are exacerbated by poor water supplies, sanitation and hygiene; adverse pregnancy outcomes; and life-threatening violence against women and girls.

Chronic effects include soil-transmitted helminthiases, increased anaemia, giardiasis, environmental enteropathy and small intestine bacterial overgrowth, and stunting and long-term impaired cognition. If OD elimination by 2030 is to be accelerated, then a clear understanding is needed of what prevents and what drives the transition from OD to using a latrine.

Sanitation marketing, behaviour change communication, and ‘enhanced’ community-led total sanitation (‘CLTSþ ’), supplemented by ‘nudging’, are the three most likely joint strategies to enable communities, both rural and periurban, to become completely OD-free and remain so.

It will be a major Sanitation Challenge to achieve the elimination of OD by 2030, but helping the poorest currently plagued by OD and its serious adverse health effects should be our principal task as we seek to achieve the sanitation target of the Sustainable Development Goals – indeed it is a moral imperative for all governments and development professionals.

Understanding Open Defecation in Rural India: Untouchability, Pollution, and Latrine Pits

Understanding Open Defecation in Rural India: Untouchability, Pollution, and Latrine Pits. Economic & Political Weekly, January 7, 2017.

Authors: Diane Coffey, Aashish Gupta, Payal Hathi, Dean Spears, Nikhil Srivastav, Sangita Vyas

India has far higher open defecation rates than other developing regions where people are poorer, literacy rates are lower, and water is relatively more scarce. In practice, government programmes in rural India have paid little attention in understanding why so many rural Indians defecate in the open rather than use affordable pit latrines.

Drawing on new data, a study points out that widespread open defecation in rural India is on account of beliefs, values, and norms about purity, pollution, caste, and untouchability that cause people to reject affordable latrines.

Future rural sanitation programmes must address villagers’ ideas about pollution, pit-emptying, and untouchability, and should do so in ways that accelerate progress towards social equality for Dalits rather than delay it.

Exploring “The Remote” and “The Rural”: Open Defecation and Latrine Use in Uttarakhand, India

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.

Highlights

  • 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.