new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available)
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TOPIC: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available)

Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 13 Aug 2014 10:21 #9719

  • dietvorst
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Reading the discussion, there does indeed appear to be too much attention on technical solutions, while the social marketing approaches being used appear to overlook deep-rooted socio-cultural determinants of sanitation behaviour.

For those who want to understand why open defecation is so persistent in India, it will be worthwhile having a looking at research that precedes the SQUAT survey:

The 1970s studies by Vijay Kocahr on the "behavioural aspects of disposal of excreta in a rural West Bengal".

Mukherjee, N., 1990. People, water and sanitation : what they know, believe and do in rural India. www.ircwash.org/resources/people-water-a...e-and-do-rural-india
This the summary of UNICEF study in 8 states. The background reports are available here

Banda, Kalyan, et al. "Water handling, sanitation and defecation practices in rural southern India: a knowledge, attitudes and practices study." Transactions of the royal society of tropical medicine and hygiene 101.11 (2007): 1124-1130. DOI: 10.1016/j.trstmh.2007.05.004

Jewitt, Sarah. "Geographies of shit Spatial and temporal variations in attitudes towards human waste." Progress in Human Geography 35.5 (2011): 608-626. Free eprint
Cor Dietvorst
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Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 13 Aug 2014 10:26 #9720

  • joeturner
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Thanks Cor - any chance you can summarise what you think is important from these papers?
Previously trained and worked as a Soil Scientist and worked on projects composting sewage sludge.

Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 13 Aug 2014 14:27 #9723

  • canaday
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Hi Cor,

These look like great links, but have you checked them for viruses? I tried to open the last one and my computer shut down.

As Joe suggested, it is good to give some sort of summary of each document we link to.

What do you think of the idea of open-air UDDTs with privacy provided by plants?
This would seem to give everyone what they are looking for.

Best wishes,
Chris
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
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Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 13 Aug 2014 17:18 #9728

  • dietvorst
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Jo and Chris,

The publications by Kochar and Banda, Kalyan are short journal articles, check the intros and abstract.

The section on open defecation in the UNICEF summary report is on p. 30-33.

The last document - it is from the eprint archive of the Univ of Nottingham, so no idea why Chris' computer crashed - is also a quick read (10 p.)

One often mentioned reason why people in India revert back to open defecation, is their aversion towards storing excreta in our near their house - this is made worse by bad experiences with dirty, dark pit latrines and unawareness about what happens to excreta in pits (some people mentioned in the UNICEF study thought that excreta remained liquid). The study by Jewitt goes into more detail about India as a typical "faecophobic" culture. UDDT or any other technology on its own will not be enough to combat "faecophobia".
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Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 13 Aug 2014 17:23 #9729

  • joeturner
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Cor - board administrators now ask everyone to give summaries of links they post and reasons why they help discussion of the subject. I support this policy because not everyone can get (or necessarily has the time) to read the linked papers.

For one thing, we can all trade links to academic journals. The important thing is why we think they're important.
Previously trained and worked as a Soil Scientist and worked on projects composting sewage sludge.

Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 13 Aug 2014 17:39 #9730

  • joeturner
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dietvorst wrote:

The study by Jewitt goes into more detail about India as a typical "faecophobic" culture. UDDT or any other technology on its own will not be enough to combat "faecophobia".


Cor, I am also interested to discuss this some more.

Jewitt does mention some studies which talked about faecophobia - and the idea of things being unclean, but also describes it as a paradox

This paradox is described by van der Geest as “the hygienic puzzle” which he attributes to the fact that the faecophobic Akan are so afraid of shit that they simply refuse to think about it and the fact that they “have to pass through dirty places and faeces” is a consequence that they are able to put out of their minds.

Srinivas (2002: 382) argues that Indians have “a paradoxical relationship with excrement” and notes how they are “particular about its removal from the private sphere, [but] no infrastructure is designed to remove it from the public sphere”. As a result, attempts to privatize faeces in by encouraging people to defecate in individually owned toilets rather than on public land have often met with resistance in urban areas. In rural India, meanwhile, tensions often exist between the ritually polluting nature of excrement and its potential value as agricultural manure.
Previously trained and worked as a Soil Scientist and worked on projects composting sewage sludge.
Last Edit: 13 Aug 2014 17:40 by joeturner.
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Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 13 Aug 2014 18:12 #9732

  • muench
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This is an important discussion that is going on in this thread, thanks.
Just so support what Joe said: we have indeed recently formulated a clearer rule, Rule number 3, see here on the rules page:
forum.susana.org/forum/rules

We formulated it like this:
Rule 3.
Please refrain from making “one liner” or short “half sentence” posts, such as providing only a URL link to a website or paper but without saying why you recommend this particular website or paper.


The reason why we did this was to emphasise that this discussion forum is not (or at least not primarily) a bulletin or announcement board, but a forum for discussion where people exchange on their opinions, views and experiences (we are not requiring users to give a summary of the paper that they link to, but simply to say what they personally found important or relevant in that paper that they are linking to).

Thanks.

Regards,
Elisabeth
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Last Edit: 13 Aug 2014 18:16 by muench.

Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 13 Aug 2014 20:12 #9733

  • ggalli
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Great discussion!
I remember during my thesis research on slum sanitation in Mumbai, I was once on a field visit in a distant Mumbai suburb with a young architect. We passed by a large pile of trash which smelled quite strongly (at the time I still noticed it, after a while it bothered me also far less) and I asked her if the smell and sight of all that trash did not bother her. I could notice that my question really put her at discomfort and I remember that she answered "that's up to the people that live here to decide".
I'm bringing this up because I just read a short book by V.S. Naipaul "India: A Wounded Civilization". He writes on India during the 1975 Emergency, as one that knows the culture, but is yet distant (he's a Hindu 3rd generation migrant born in Barbados I believe). I don't have the book with me right now, but I found this interesting quote on one of his visits in a (then still) Bombay slum:
"Through these sections we walked without speaking, picking our way between squirts and butts and twists of human excrement. It was unclean to clean; it was unclean to even notice. It was the business of the sweepers to remove excrement, and until the sweepers came, people were content to live in the midst of their own excrement" (p57)
Please notice that sweepers are the lowest of the lowest caste, the so-called untouchables.

UPDATE: I've invited Sjaak van der Geest, Professor Emeritus of Medical Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and visiting professor at BRAC University in Dhaka to join this discussion.
Giacomo Galli
Last Edit: 14 Aug 2014 08:22 by ggalli.
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Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 14 Aug 2014 09:01 #9735

  • pkjha
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Dear All
The topic is quite interesting and challenging for Indian condition.There was a study sponsored by UNICEF in 2008 in 6 states - Maharashtra, Andhar Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh to find out reasons for toilet being non-functional. The detail study shows that on an average there were 31% poor and unfinished installation,14% without superstructure,18% lack of behaviour change. Another study was conducted through the Ministry of Drinking water and sanitation, Government of India in 2010-11. It also shows more or less same reasons for non- functional/ toilets not being used. Lack of required awareness is the most important reason. The present supply driven approach by the government through providing subsidy is also one of the reasons for such low coverage. More emphasis needs to be given to awareness and social aspects.

Pawan
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Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 14 Aug 2014 09:12 #9736

  • joeturner
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Pawan, what do you make of this idea that some people might actually prefer to defecate outside? Do you think that it is possible that the superstructure is off-putting to some users?

Other thoughts, perhaps for further discussion:

I was reading the links that Cor supplied above last night and they have some really interesting insights. I think this idea of faecophobia is a really interesting one - because it seems to me that many in WASH are working from the assumption that users are rather too casual with their faeces rather than that they are afraid of it.

Seen in that light, perhaps the issue can partly be explained by the idea of visibility of the faeces. A dirty toilet is obviously not good to use because you can see the faeces. Also perhaps with the latrine - either you can see it or you might have to deal with the faeces later (which might make you culturally unclean and/or label you as an untouchable caste). Perhaps having a sanitation system in the household is actually a 'bad' thing because it means having something dirty so close to somewhere that you live and a communal latrine is bad because you have to face up with your own, and others, dirty waste.

If those thoughts are pretty well engrained in the society, perhaps it does make logical sense to defecate into a bag which you dispose of or to walk some distance away from where you live to defecate. Maybe it does make sense to do it outside where the wind and rain can carry away the smell and dirt.

Maybe the root of this problem is that of seeing and handling something which is thought to be dirty, demeaning and disgusting.
Previously trained and worked as a Soil Scientist and worked on projects composting sewage sludge.

Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 14 Aug 2014 09:24 #9737

  • ggalli
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During my very modest experience in India I found several interesting things that are related:

1)Toilets are seen as impure, and kitchens as pure areas. It was told me by my room-mates that in the villages it is therefore preferred to have toilets far away from the house. In cities this 'distance' is achieved by wearing a separate pair of slippers for the bathroom (also because the floor is usually wet due to the pouring of water).

2) Many houses are spotless clean inside (this applies both in slums as apartments that I've visited), whereas it appears to be no issue to throw trash outside even if this trash is thrown on the direct footpath or on the apartment grounds. This seems to like their a clear distinction between a private and public responsibility towards cleanliness.

3) Cleaning toilets is impure. The cleaning help in my house was supposed to clean the toilets but didn't want to and I was not allowed to. Result: I would clean my own toilet, making sure that no one would notice. I've heard similar stories from people that cannot find domestics that clean toilets, and are at the same time unwilling to do this themselves.
Giacomo Galli
Last Edit: 14 Aug 2014 09:25 by ggalli.
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Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 14 Aug 2014 11:14 #9738

  • dietvorst
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It seems covenient for non-social scientists like me to attribute the high level of open defecation in India (48.3%) and the other Hindu-majority country Nepal (40.3%) to "Hindu-faecophobia".

That would still not explain the large differences between states in India, where Kerala for example is nearly open defecation free. Even more than income, education levels and human development focussed policies play an important role there.

Bangladesh is poorer than most of its neighbours, including India, but generally scores much better in terms of health and sanitation. Government commitment to social welfare and health, donor support and pluralism in health care (government. NGOs and private sector working together) are the pillars of the "Bangladesh paradox" - read http://www.ircwash.org//blog/bangladesh-paradox.

Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen uses the Bangladesh example as part of his fierce criticism of India's failed human development policy:

"Half of all Indians have no toilet. In Delhi when you build a new condominium there are lots of planning requirements but none relating to the servants having toilets. It's a combination of class, caste and gender discrimination. It's absolutely shocking. Poor people have to use their ingenuity and for women that can mean only being able to relieve themselves after dark with all the safety issues that entails," says Sen, adding that Bangladesh is much poorer than India and yet only 8% don't have access to a toilet. "This is India's defective development".


Sen was being interviewed in 2013 on the occasion of the launch the book he co-wrote with Jean Drèze An Uncertain Glory. Sen unintendedly (?) implies that the CLTS shame principle can also be applied at the political level:

What's the purpose of a development model that produces luxury shopping malls rather than sanitation systems that ensure millions of healthy lives, ask Drèze and Sen, accusing India of "unaimed opulence". India is caught in the absurd paradox of people having mobile phones but no toilets.

Even more stark is the comparison with Bangladesh. "Our hope is that India's public policymakers will be embarrassed by the comparison with Bangladesh. On a range of development indicators such as life expectancy, child immunisation and child mortality, Bangladesh has pulled ahead of India despite being poorer.'

What makes this comparison so powerful is that Bangladesh has targeted the position of women not just through government policy but also through the work of non-governmental organisations such as BRAC and the Grameen Bank. As a result, there have been astonishing successes, says Sen, such as a dramatic fall in fertility rate and girls now outnumbering boys in education. All this has been achieved despite having half the per capita income of India.


To make matters more complex, Joe and I recently had a Twitter conversation with Sahana Singh (‏@singhsahana), editor of Asian Water Magazine about her opinion piece "Hindu texts not to blame for India’s sanitation crisis", who claims that "Hindu-faecophobia" can actually help solve the open defecation problem:

What the ancient Vedas, Manusmriti, Kamasutra (yes, the Kamasutra is not merely about sex) highlight is that distance should be maintained between faeces and human habitation. Distance. In other words, no mixing, no contact between human wastes and the places where people live, eat and sleep. Also, it is specifically mentioned that faeces and urine should not be allowed to come in contact with water bodies. Even in agriculture, the use of raw human waste is expressly prohibited.


and that because of Brtish colonialism:

The hallowed Hindu principle of not mixing waste with clean water was discarded and this let loose a plethora of diseases. Had those principles been researched and developed scientifically into a code of best practices, today India could have been full of eco-friendly toilets that produced excellent fertiliser (perhaps bio-energy too) while its rivers, lakes and wells could have been the cleanest in the world. There would have been no need for the country to import fertilisers at nearly $700 per tonne
.

She concludes:

The disinformation campaign about the nexus between Hinduism and poor hygiene needs to be busted. Verse after verse in Hindu scriptures expound on the link between cleanliness and godliness.

What the country needs to do today is to reclaim the knowledge in ancient Hindu texts which taught humans to take care of their environment, and to keep dirt and waste away from water bodies. Indians need to make up for lost time and build toilets that do not send human wastes to water.


Her lesson for us is:

Sahana Singh ‏@singhsahana Aug 3
@dietvorst @bucksci Without examining history of problem and knwing when/where/why things went wrong, solutions will not be long-lasting.
Cor Dietvorst
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