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) 14 Aug 2014 11:28 #9739

  • joeturner
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Oh dear, I had totally forgotten about that conversation!

I don't understand this aspect of that argument: If the Hindu text prohibit the use of human faeces in agriculture, how would it have helped save fertiliser at $700 a tonne (which it wouldn't anyway, being a pretty unbalanced form of organic fertiliser)?
I don't work for anyone, I am a philosopher interested to think about how we think about WASH and sanitation. All thoughts are mine alone, I am responsible for any errors.

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 23:57 #9748

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I am a health practitioner from india. When we did public health as a subject, one of the findings for failed toilet program was that women felt that the time in the early morning when they are out is when they can talk about anything with their friends!!! I have also asked people who come to help out in my home as to why they don't use toilet which is provided for in their homes. There is no specific answer except that they don't like it. I live in a small rural town in Tamil Nadu, and some goodhearted Westerners built Ecosan toilets in certain lower income group part of the town. I am afraid it is not a success and these schemes need auditing at least after about 6 months in my opinion. Changing behaviour may not be easy and I can tell, manu has nothing to do with this. This open defaecation is more so in certain parts of India.

In my view there has to be constant inputs and education very frequently. Also government has to provide for toilet in public places and educate people the need for using toilets. In our town there is a tradition of going round the sacred hill of 14 km and it is extremely difficult coz there are no toilets provided for. In my capacity I have written to our chief minister an online complaint requesting toilets on this 14 km stretch at least.
Last Edit: 15 Aug 2014 00:08 by muench.

Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 15 Aug 2014 11:22 #9750

  • pkjha
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Dear Dietvorst and others

It is quite interesting discussion with much important information. Our ancient Vedas and Purans/ Manusmriti had shown more concern towards environment particularly protection of water bodies and forests. As Dietvorst mentioned these holy books mention that people must not defecate near the water body. A minimum distance between defecation place and water body / habitation was mentioned in those holy books. There was no chance of environmental or ground water pollution or spread of diseases from human excreta in ancient times.
The problem of human excreta management was started after invention of flush toilet. Perhaps it was a technical blunder. Flush toilet can solve the problem of defecation by having enclosed toilet without smell with a receptacle for human waste for its disposal. Safe management of human wastes is always a challenging task and mostly ignored. For example, Septic tank toilet constitutes highest percentage (38%) of toilets in India. It is a sanitary toilet as per WHO/ UNICEF and national government’s definition. Septage from septic tanks is discharged anywhere- water body, low land areas or open fields causing sever environmental problems, health risk and ground water pollution. Proper management of septage is another techno-economic and social problem. Such management is rarely seen in urban or rural areas.
On-site pour flush pit toilet is implemented in most of the developing countries. It causes ground water pollution in case of high water table areas. It is causing irreversible damage to the environment. A minimum distance is to be maintained between water source and toilet. Depending on soil condition, such distance varies from 10 m to 30 m. It is not possible to maintain such distance in high or even medium population density areas.
Sewerage system is sometimes regarded as the best option. That’s not true. Its implementation and maintenance costs make it prohibitive for most of the local bodies in developing countries. It is not environmentally sustainable even for developed countries. The negative additive effects of heavy metals and toxic element in effluent can’t be predicted / monitored when used for agriculture purpose/ soil discharge. The article - Civilization & Sludge: Notes on the History of the Management of Human Excreta by Abby A. Rockefeller describes more on technical aspects.
The root cause is that we did find out toilets for defecation of our comfort but ignored its adverse effect of septage or waste water on environment. Further by having such systems we accumulate the problems first and then try to find out sustainable solution to overcome the problems. For that purpose we need a lot of technical manpower, machinery, space and fund.
We should revisit our Vedas, Purans and Manusmriti and try to find out design of toilet comfortable not only to human being but also to environment.

Pawan
Pawan Jha
Chairman
Foundation for Environment and Sanitation
Mahavir Enclave
New Delhi 110045, India
Web: www.foundation4es.org
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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) 15 Aug 2014 12:33 #9751

  • joeturner
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Hi Pawan - are the unused toilets discussed in the articles flush toilets? I agree that poor sewer sanitation can be worse than no sanitation, but I am not sure that this explains a lack of use of the government latrines.
I don't work for anyone, I am a philosopher interested to think about how we think about WASH and sanitation. All thoughts are mine alone, I am responsible for any errors.

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) 15 Aug 2014 14:01 #9752

  • pkjha
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Hi Joeturner

In my last post I did try to supplement my view with the post from Dietvorst regarding code of defecation mentioned in ancient Vedas vrs. environment protection.
Actually in Hindu culture particularly in rural areas, human waste is regarded by many as spiritual pollutant- not Faecofobia. Such spiritual pollutant concept might have come due to elaborated codes of defecation mentioned in Vedas/ Manusmriti/ Purans. Due to such mindset, many people do not like to have toilets attached to living room. Manual handling of human excreta is required in either pit toilet or UDDT toilet. Many people do not like to handle even digested human wastes.
Under that condition, your view of using bags for defecation and throw them away is just unthinkable.In this case it is not only a matter of spiritual pollutant rather it is more health hazardous, unhygienic and unsocial idea. Problem is not only open defecation. Safe management of human wastes is more important issue.

pawan
Pawan Jha
Chairman
Foundation for Environment and Sanitation
Mahavir Enclave
New Delhi 110045, India
Web: www.foundation4es.org
Linked: linkedin.com/in/drpkjha

Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 15 Aug 2014 16:33 #9756

  • joeturner
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Thanks Pawan, but it is not 'my idea' of defecating in bags, which is a practice well known in many places. I am not trying to suggest behaviour but to try to understand it so that - maybe - systems can be offered that people will use.

Whether or not the British were to blame for the sanitation crisis and the rise of Open Defecation problems in India seems to me to be largely not relevant to a discussion about why people are not using offered infrastructure today.

I agree, of course, that safe faecal management is critically important and that manual handling of faecal waste is a serious health hazard. So it seems to me that there is a level of intersection between that which Hinduism might think of as a spiritual pollutant and the health risks associated with it.

But the aspect that I really don't understand is why there is a phobia (and I really think that is an appropriate word) around faeces which means that toilets in the house are not accepted but where leaving faeces outside is accepted. Please help me to understand - what is it that is the spiritual pollutant? How can we design sanitation systems which would be accepted by people who think in this way?
I don't work for anyone, I am a philosopher interested to think about how we think about WASH and sanitation. All thoughts are mine alone, I am responsible for any errors.

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) 15 Aug 2014 17:13 #9759

  • Seetha
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First off , i would like to say at the cost of sounding like a nazi, there are certain issues which need to be addressed without spending time in the past or psychology.the simple reason is sanitation involves health and if attempts have not produced results then the modus operandi need to change.

How come the same hindus are able to behave in singapore.?the govt after providing necessary support system must make it mandatory that sanitation is maintained.fines for a street that is still letting their children defaecate or use the women's self help group to do some of these education in hand sanitation and producing cheaper hand washing liquids etc.

As far as a i know a common man /woman may practice casteism , all this purity, mention 'manu' to them , they will ask 'who?'.

A toilet for every school says Indian Prime minister in Independence day speech 15 Aug 2014 17:46 #9760

  • rahulingle
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On the eve of the 68th Independence day, the newly elected Indian prime minister spoke about the need of toilets and cleanliness and launched the cleanliness drive called 'Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana'.

Excerpts from his speech:
"I don't know whether people will appreciate me talking about dirt & toilets from Red Fort but I come from a poor family. All schools should have toilets. There should be separate toilets for schools. I urge all MPs to spend one year's funds to construct toilets. In 2019, ensuring cleanliness will be the most fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary. Gandhiji emphasised on cleanliness. We should ensure that every road, school, office, locality and neighbourhood is clean. It is a shame that our women have to wait for darkness to go out in the open to defecate. Can't we build toilets for the security of our women? There are many schemes named after the PM and many leaders. Today I announce a scheme in the name of Parliament. A scheme for villages. Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. By 2016, MPs should have at least made one village an ideal village. If we want to develop India, we need to develop villages. By the end of five years, each MP should have converted at least five villages into ideal villages."

www.ndtv.com/article/india/a-toilet-for-...r-clean-india-576288
Best regards,

Rahul Ingle
Program Advisor "Sustainable sanitation"
GIZ, Eschborn, Germany
and SuSanA secretariat

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Last Edit: 15 Aug 2014 17:47 by rahulingle.
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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) 15 Aug 2014 19:52 #9762

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Interesting converstion, my tiny bit of input to the discussion. (I apologise many of my comments are from personal experiences and observations being an Indian and cannot provide studies to subbstantiate my claims.)

1. I would strike off the argument "Hindus practice open defecation because the scriptures suggest so" as majority of the Hindus have never read the scriptures. Reading the scriptures was only a priviledge of the brahmin caste in the past and even after 'liberalisation' a negligible number have read the scriptures especially the vedas/manusmriti only out of interest and am sure none must have noticed anything mentioned in the kamasutra book . It is a matter of how the culture defines clean and unclean spaces just like Ggalli pointed out. Toilets are considered unclean spaces irrespective if it is a hindu, muslim, sikh, buddhist, jains or any other faiths in India. They all use slippers to go to a toilet even if the toilet is indoors which they clearly identify as an unclean area. The smell and the visibility of faeces in a pit toilet keeps reminding there is something unclean next doors. In rural areas the toilets are therefore a few meters from the house but within the compound. Also flush toilets are much better accepted as indoor solutions but are still preferred to be kept outside when there is enough space available.

2. faecofoebia: would you really consider a culture that touches faeces everyday (anal cleansing) faecofobic? The hindu's that consider the cow holy, handle cow dung with bare hands and drink cow urine! there is even a cow urine soda developed this year. www.livescience.com/42529-cow-urine-heal...its-gomutra-ark.html . Surely human faeces and urine are considered unclean but so does the rest of the world.

Cleaning a toilet is very much considered an unclean task and it definitely has association with the lowest caste which makes it difficult to maintain toilets. It is important to note that people are open to clean their own shit (ODF) but feel humiliated to clean the shit of others (toilets as common defecating places). People therefore prefer to defecate in the open where they are not expected to clean others shit.
Best regards,

Rahul Ingle
Program Advisor "Sustainable sanitation"
GIZ, Eschborn, Germany
and SuSanA secretariat

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.giz.de/sanitation
www.susana.org
Last Edit: 18 Aug 2014 09:28 by rahulingle.

Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 15 Aug 2014 20:31 #9763

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Thank you for sharing this article. It opens up the opportunity to discuss effective community engagement, which is clearly one of the most significant obstacles to the adoption of toilets. The government will continue to be challenged if they utilize an approach that positions community members ignorant. I agree with Yamini Aiyar's comment about the irrelevance of the number of toilets constructed, yet am troubled by assuming that people don't value sanitation. The design, location, and type of toilets should be crowdsourced from the community, rather than having something imposed on them that violates their culture. And clearly a massive outreach campaign would be helpful, after the community identifies the best way forward.

Re: new article: on unused toilets in India (why do some rural people prefer open defecation even if toilets are available) 16 Aug 2014 10:55 #9767

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After watching an interview with a panel of sanitation experts, I am a bit more optimistic that India is finally on the right track.

The political will and financial commitment of the government is there, and there is growing support from civil society, academia and the private sector. The realisation that there needs to be a shift from building infrastructure to behaviour change and ensuring toilet use and safe disposal, is growing at all levels.

I posted the interview and an overview of the panelists at: http://wp.me/paGBZ-2Ii
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) 16 Aug 2014 16:17 #9768

  • muench
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I have really enjoyed following this discussion on this sensitive issue.
In line with Cor's sentiment, I would like to share this article with you that was today on BBC about the speach of the new prime minister, Modi. I think it gives hope that things are moving in the right direction in India:

India: Five unusual messages from Narendra Modi's speech
www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-28799397

I particularly liked this part (it fits with our discussion on gender based violence and WASH: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/142-up...ence-gender-and-wash):

"But have you ever asked your son where he is going, why is he going and who are his friends? After all, the person committing the rape is also someone's son," the prime minister said, advising parents to keep tabs on their sons.

"It's the responsibility of the parents to stop their sons before they take the wrong path," he added.


and this part:

Echoing the sentiments of many Indians, Mr Modi said he was appalled by the all-pervasive filth around him and urged the citizens to clean up their act.

In India where hundreds of millions of people have no access to a toilet at home, Mr Modi vowed to end open defecation.

"We are in the 21st Century and yet there is still no dignity for women as they have to go out in the open to defecate and they have to wait for darkness to fall. Can you imagine the number of problems they have to face because of this?" he asked.

Realising that some may say toilet talk is an unusual topic for an Independence Day speech, Mr Modi offered a justification.

"People may criticise me for talking about toilets from the Red Fort. But I am from a poor family, I have seen poverty first hand. For the poor to get dignity, it has to start from here."

The prime minister pledged separate toilet facilities for girls and boys in every school and said India should ensure that every household has a toilet within the next four years.


This will be an ambitious aim, let's see which steps his government will put into place to achieve it.

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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