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The Indian Toilet Crisis

  • 29
  • 03
  • 2016

We flush our toilets every couple of hours without even thinking. However, most of us are oblivious to the fact that this basic human right is not possible for more than half of India’s population, a whopping 600 Million people.

This issue was brought to light when India’s Prime Minister promised a toilet for every Indian person by 2019.

Unfortunately the current problem is not solely due to the inadequate number of toilets in the country. The Research Institute for Compassionate Economics (RICE) conducted a study which showed that 40% of families still have at least one member which continues to defecate outside, even with access to a toilet. It is common belief amongst many Indians, the men especially, that “it’s more comfortable and convenient”.

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Communities in India are beginning to use different strategies in an attempt to increase the use of these newly built toilets. In Haryana fines are now being issued to people caught relieving themselves outside and in Sulabh open roof toilets are being implemented to encourage men who feel claustrophobic using a regular toilet.

The issues associated with public defecation are many and the added danger to women was highlighted when two girls, 14 and 15, were gang raped and hung after they had finished their business in the dark. It is common for mothers in villages throughout India to stay up all night in order to ensure their daughters are safe and have privacy when relieving themselves.

Dr Pathak highlights that “Building toilets is not enough. What you need is a widespread motivation and information campaign” and we will finally begin to see a change in India’s sanitation practices.

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