Where will all the toilets come from?

Widows from Uttar Pradesh at the International Toilet Festival in New Delhi on November 18.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has turned the spotlight on sanitation like never before, but as World Toilet Day is observed on November 19, India finds itself among 27 countries that have to majorly grapple with the problem of open defecation (based on 2011 data).

The World Health Organization's (WHO) report, 'Progress on sanitation and drinking water - 2013 update', released last year said that more than a quarter of the population in these countries resort to open defecation. It all adds up to one billion people or 15 per cent of the global population doing so, mostly in rural areas.

Eliminating open defecation is one of the goals of the 'Swachh Bharat Mission', a much talked about national campaign these days. The challenge is a pretty steep one for India because it is the largest among these 27 countries.

World Toilet Day aims to enhance awareness about a large section of the global population not being able to enjoy the human right to water and sanitation. It was formally recognized as a UN day in 2013.

This year's World Toilet Day theme, equality and dignity, has resonance particularly in India, because it underlines the point that access to improved sanitation has a bearing on women's security, and brings down the risk of assault and violence against them.

The WHO progress report, based on 2011 data, says that India's neighbours like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have achieved dramatic success in bringing down the rate of open defecation. Bangladesh was able to reduce the rate of open defecation from 32 to 4 per cent, Pakistan from 52 to 23 per cent and Nepal from 84 to 43 per cent between 1990 and 2011. India managed to reduce the percentage from 74 to 50.

Sanitation types broadly fall either in the improved or unimproved category. The improved category toiles are ones that esnure 'hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact'. Unimproved santiation ranges from open defecation to toilets that do not ensure hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact and shared sanitation facilities that includes multiple families sharing toilets that are acceptable otherwise.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 1:23:19 PM |

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