Skip to main content

Spot observation: 40% to 100% open defecation across 10 rural and urban clusters

By Bharat Dogra* 

The recent emphasis of the sanitation campaign particularly the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM Rural and SBM Urban) on achieving ODF (Open Defecation Free) status in villages and slums has led to varying levels of success in various places. On the other hand we have situations close to complete success but on the other hand we also have situation close to almost complete failure or very limited success.
One important question now is -- what is to be the next step in areas where open defecation still exists to a large extent -- say somewhere between 40 to 100%. In some entire panchayats open defecation may not be so high but in particular hamlets of these panchayats more likely to be inhabited by the weaker sections such a situation may exist. Anyone familiar with the real sanitation situation would readily agree that there are tens of thousands of such rural and urban settlements.
Recently this writer visited about 10 such rural and urban clusters where the extent of open defecation was between 40 and 100%. I tried to find out that if the failure had been due to the people not giving adequate priority to having toilets. 
In 8 out of 10 settlements I found that people gave very high priority to having toilets as they were facing a lot of problems due to open defecation. In one village in fact two women had died due to snake bites at the time of open defecation. 
In some rural and urban settlements women reported other serious safety issues also related to open defecation. In the remaining two settlements also toilets were a priority, but not to the same extent as in the other eight. 
This was because the people here are burdened with other such serious problems that while open defecation here too is a serious problem and they need toilets, but in terms of their top priorities they may not include toilets.
Here we do not go into the details of the reasons why despite the felt needs of the people for toilets and despite recent government campaigns many people still do not have toilets. Of course some of the failure is due to the poor construction of toilets but there are other reasons too. However the larger question is regarding the future development strategy in terms of sanitation.
In several Delhi urban settlements, it is taken for granted that inadequate public toilets will meet the needs of people these meant to cover
There are rural settlements in which the money for toilets has been spent but open defecation continues. Now these households are listed as beneficiaries already of SBM and hence it is unlikely that any help for toilet construction will come their way in the near future.
There was over-reporting earlier at the time of declaring ODF in many places, and until the reality is recognized it is unlikely that the government will start any new drive for toilet construction.
However what can be done with the help of voluntary organizations which have experience in sanitation is that they should very honestly make an assessment of the real situation and problems and then try to introduce ODF successfully in the case of just about a dozen households who presently resort to open defecation, taking care of all the problems that were highlighted in their assessment. This can be done at a number of places carefully. The learning from these places can then become the basis of a bigger intervention.
In several urban settlements including in Delhi, it is being taken for granted that the very inadequate public toilets are able to meet the needs of people these are meant to cover. Here too there is need for careful assessment and small-scale but careful interventions to meet needs of people in such a way that there can be learning for bigger interventions later.
Unless such efforts continue to be made, the unmet sanitation needs of many people will be pushed under the cover of exaggerated statistics of what has been achieved. We must have realistic information regarding those left out and what can be done, should be done on a continuing basis in more careful ways for them, even if these are small efforts.
---
*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include “Protecting Earth for Children”, “Man over Machine” and “When the Two Streams Met”

Comments

TRENDING

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Indians witnessing 'regression to Hindutva politics' under Modi ahead of elections

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The forthcoming general election in India, scheduled from April 19, 2024, to June 1, 2024, to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha and the new Government of India, carries immense significance for the preservation of India's identity as a liberal, secular, and constitutional democracy.