Tag Archives: open defecation

India, Madhya Pradesh: sanitation campaign humiliates women, say critics

Controversial illustration from Madya Pradesh sanitation campaign booklet

Controversial illustration from Madya Pradesh sanitation campaign booklet

A government campaign to stop open defecation in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has been criticised for using humiliation to change behaviour. Journalist M. Poornima writes that the ambitious scheme called ‘Maryada Abhiyan’ (Hindi for dignity), “gives little of it to women”.

From catcalls to publishing names to photographing the people caught — the government booklet [1] suggests a number of measures meant to humiliate people. That it would hit women the hardest is not a thought that appears to have occurred to the authorities.

The criticism is backed up by WaterAid programme officer Binu Arickal, who called whistling at or photographing women practising open defecation “foolish”. This reflects a discussion started at the beginning of this year on community-led total sanitation (CLTS) and human rights in the SuSanA Forum, which was sparked by a journal article [2] by Jamie Bartram and others.

UNICEF contributed to the Maryada campaign booklet. The campaign’s brand ambassador is Anita Narre, the bride from a Madhya Pradesh who  sparked a “sanitation revolution” in her village by forcing her husband to build a toilet in their home.

[1] Madhya Pradesh. State Water and Sanitation Mission (2012?). Maryada Abhiyan: guideline. Available at: <http://washurl.net/42kkyn>

[2] Bartram, J. … [et al.] (2012). Commentary on community-led total sanitation and human rights: Should the right to community-wide health be won at the cost of individual rights?. Journal of water and health, 10(4), pp. 499–503. doi: 10.2166/wh.2012.205. Available at: <http://washurl.net/56qm77>

Related web sites:

Source: M. Poornima, No ‘maryada’ for women in MP govt’s sanitation drive, Hindustan Times, 24 Dec 2013

Making hygiene the central issue

I’ve just had the luxury of sitting down and reading a pile of reports that have been accumulating over the last few months.   A group of these relates to the clear links between sanitation and under-nutrition, especially, how the prevalence of open defecation (OD) in India is clearly correlated with stunting in children in that country. The relevant documents, being a report by Dean Spears (How much international variation in child height can sanitation explain) and an article by Robert Chambers and Gregor von Medeazza (Sanitation and stunting in India: undernutrition’s blind spot) are a must-read for all WASH practitioners and child health specialists, and provide ammunition by the bucket load for advocates of better sanitation and hygiene.

One comment in the Chambers/von Medeazza paper, however, stirred up a problem that has been gnawing away at me for a while: “OD is particularly harmful where population density is high”. There is nothing surprising there, we would all agree. So, here is the troubling thought: you might think that the converse applies: perhaps OD is not especially harmful where population density is not particularly high? The situation where someone defecates in a remote field, in a very dry location, and buries the faeces under a desiccating sun is one that has probably occurred to all of us as being not hugely problematic, especially if that person has and uses an effective method of washing his/her hands quickly afterwards.

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Will data linking open defecation to undernutrition force change?

Will data linking open defecation to undernutrition force change? {Source: Mark Tran, The Guardian, Aug 1, 2013}

Studies show a link between open defecation and stunted development, but merely building toilets may not be the answer

More people have mobile phones than access to toilets, the UN reminded us last week as the general assembly designated 19 November official UN world toilet day.

A humourous anti-open defecation sign at Vulture Peak Buddhist pilgrimage site in Bihar, India. Photograph: Olaf Schubert/Alamy

A humourous anti-open defecation sign at Vulture Peak Buddhist pilgrimage site in Bihar, India. Photograph: Olaf Schubert/Alamy

Six billion of the world’s population of 7 billion have mobile phones. However, only 4.5 billion have access to toilets – meaning that 2.5 billion, mostly in rural areas, do not have proper sanitation. In addition, 1.1 billion people defecate in the open. Sanitation does not get its due. So, the assembly urged member states to encourage behavioural change and implement policies that increase access to sanitation, along with a call to end open defecation, which it deems extremely harmful to public health.

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George Washington University Study Documents Variability in Changes to Open Defecation among Sub-Saharan African Countries

Exploring changes in open defecation prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa based on national level indices

About 215 million people in sub-Saharan Africa still defecate in fields, forests or out in the open, a practice that puts people and especially children at risk of diarrheal diseases. Public health experts are calling for an end to such practices by the year 2015 in order to protect the public health.

A new analysis by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) looks at how well countries in sub-Saharan Africa are doing when it comes to putting in basic sanitation facilities that would reduce this risky practice.

Jay Graham, PhD, MBA, MPH, an assistant professor of global environmental health at SPHHS and his co-authors looked at data on open defecation in 34 sub-Saharan African countries and estimated any changes in prevalence from 2005 through 2010. Deise Galan, MPH, was the lead author of the study and conducted much of the data analysis as part of her MPH thesis.

The authors found that only three countries were successful in reducing open defecation by 10 percent or more during the study’s time frame. And only one country, Angola, is on track to end the practice by the target date of 2015, according to the authors.

The authors also examined factors that might speed progress, finding that overseas development assistance might help low income sub-Saharan countries defray the cost of putting in place improved sanitation such as pit latrines or basic toilets. Additional research must be done to find other factors that might assist countries in meeting the public health goal of reducing open defecation, Graham and his colleagues said.

WASH for Life grants for the HappyTap and six other innovations

WaterSHED’s Vietnamese HappyTap. Photo: WaterSHED

The HappyTap, a low-cost handwashing device for the Vietnamese market, is one of seven innovations to receive a grant from the WASH for Life Partnership. This US$ 17 million initiative is co-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV).

In 2010, with USAID support, the WaterSHED program teamed with the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) to develop and market a new handwashing device. The design came from IDEO.org, which itself has received a WASH for Life grant for Clean Kumasi, an digitally-supported approach to Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). Together with Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), IDEO.org is working to combat open defecation in Kumasi, Ghana using mobile phones and open-source mapping.

Examples of signs  posted to prompt residents to flash Clean Kumasi. Photo: IDEO.org

Examples of signs posted to prompt residents to flash Clean Kumasi. Photo: IDEO.org

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Developing and Monitoring Protocol for the Elimination of Open Defecation

Developing and Monitoring Protocol for the Elimination of Open Defecation in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2013.  UNICEF.

Eliminating open defecation is increasingly seen as a key health outcome, with links to reduced stunting, improved educational and positive health outcomes for children. In Sub Saharan Africa, over 35 countries are implementing some form of CLTS, ranging from TATS in Tanzania to CLTSH in Ethiopia. Since the introduction of CLTS in 2005 in the region, rapid scale-up has been achieved with suggested numbers of ODF communities in the range of 30,000 affecting over 15 million people in SubSaharan Africa. Several countries have set aggressive targets for elimination of Open Defecation in rural areas for the next five years which often include not only safe disposal of faeces but handwashing facilities, cleanliness and solid waste management.

Sustaining the progress made through the application of the CLTS process is emerging as a challenge with experience suggesting that sustainability is determined by the process followed to achieve ODF. Rapid scale up in SSA is arguably linked to the fact that CLTS is based on the concept of triggering community-wide behaviour change, requires no subsidies and integrates easily into existing health programming structures. Current focus is on ‘triggering’ communities into action; while considerably less resources and emphasis on following up and mentoring of communities ‘post-triggering’.

This paper reviews process and protocol for defining, reporting, declaring, certifying ODF and sustaining ODF, highlighting where the process varies between countries and potential determinants of sustainability within the process itself. Critical questions include what elements (should) constitute an ODF protocol, what are the determinants of sustainability and what impact does target-setting have on achievement of ODF goals in country?

Kiribati’s North Tarawa declared first open defecation free island in the Pacific

Everyone on North Tarawa now has access to improved sanitation. Photo: ABC Radio Australia / UNICEF Pacific.

North Tarawa in Kiribati is the first island in the Pacific to be declared open defecation free, thanks to the “Kiriwatsan I Project”. The Ministry of Public Works is implementing this project with technical support from UNICEF and funding from the European Union.

North Tarawa is made up of a string of islets with a combined population of 6,102 (2010) and a land area of 15.26 sq.km.  Previously about 64 per cent of people used the beaches and mangroves for defecation and dumping their rubbish.

UNICEF spokeswoman Nuzhat Shahzadi says that diarrhoeal diseases cause 15 per cent of the deaths of children under five in Kiribati.

In March 2013, North Tarawa adopted the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach following a training of trainers course conducted by Dr Kamal Kar. The CLTS pioneer wrote that he had convinced Kiribati President Anote Tong to set December 2015 as the target date for the whole nation to become open defecation free.

The villagers of North Tarawa dig shallow pits and use local materials like brick and coconut leaves to build the toilet superstructure. They keep water and soap in one corner. After using the toilet, the villagers sprinkle ash to stop the smell and flies getting in, and then keep it covered.

Ms Shahzadi said that the women and girls were very happy that no longer have to go out on the beach in the middle of the night if they need to use the toilet.

Source: UNICEF, 11 May 2013 ; Radio New Zealand International, 13 May 2013 ; ABC Radio Australia, 14 May 2013

India, Bihar: rapes ’caused by lack of toilets’

Map showing  frequency & severity of violence against  women in Bhalswa slum, Delhi. Shirley Lennon/SHARE.

Map showing frequency & severity of violence against
women in Bhalswa slum, Delhi. Shirley Lennon/SHARE.

The lack of safe toilets for women and girls is often linked to an increased risk of sexual harassment and rape. Earlier studies [1] from Kenya, Uganda and India, and now a recent BBC news item are some of the few sources to actually quantify this risk.

Senior police official Arvind Pandey from the Indian state of Bihar told the BBC that 400 women would have “escaped” rape in 2012 if they had toilets in their homes. The rapes take place when women go outside to defecate early in the morning and late evening. These “sanitation-related” rapes make up nearly half of the more than 870 cases of rape in Bihar in 2012.

The BBC news item lists three specific cases:

  • On 5 May, an 11-year-old girl was raped in Mai village in Jehanabad district when she was going to the field at night
  • On 28 April, a young girl was abducted and raped when she had gone out to defecate in an open field in Kalapur village in Naubatpur, 35km (21 miles) from the state capital, Patna
  • On 24 April, another girl was raped in similar circumstances on a farm in Chaunniya village in Sheikhpura district. She told the police that two villagers had followed and raped her. One of them has been arrested

In Bihar , 75.8% of homes have no toilet facilities (Census 2011). Some 49% of the households without a toilet wanted one for “safety and security” for women and children, according to a study by Population Service International (PSI),   Monitor Deloitte and Water for People.

[1] Heise, L., 2013. Danger, disgust and indignity : women’s perception of sanitation in informal settlements. Powerpoint presented at “Making connections: Women, sanitation and health”, 29 April 2013, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Video version available at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AS9ulpJqh7s

Related news:

  • Request for Proposals: The effects of poor sanitation on women and girls in India, Sanitation Updates, 07 Mar 2013
  • India, Delhi: how sexual violence against women is linked to water and sanitation, E-Source, 27 Mar 2012

Source: Amarnath Tewary, BBC, 09 May 2013

 

Golden Poo Award Finalist – Bum Bay

Sanitation Updates’ favourite to win the 2012 Golden Poo Award for best short film has to be Bum Bay. Set to the tune of the 1969 Indo-pop hit “Bombay Meri Hai” – transformed to “Bum Bay Meri Hai” – we see a mock tourist promotion film interspersed with explicit scenes of male open defecation.

The film was made by renowned Indian film advertising company Genesis run by Prahlad Kakar. Continue reading

India’s sanitation emergency – Al Jazeera

New Delhi promised to build hundreds of public toilets for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Only 9 were built, and none of them are functioning. This short report from Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman highlights the fact that over 50 per cent of Indians have no access to clean toilets. It focuses on the lack of facilities in India’s growing cities and in schools. The report features rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, the inevitable Bindeshwar Pathak of Sulabh International and UNICEF India’s Suzanne Coates.