Collaboration with the Hindi Water Portal to bring you sanitation stories from the field in India

  • nityajacob
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Collaboration with the Hindi Water Portal to bring you sanitation stories from the field in India

Dear all,

The SuSanA India Chapter brings you stories from the field through a collaboration between India Sanitation Coalition and Hindi Water Portal .

As part of the SuSanA India Chapter's outreach to new partners, the India Sanitation Coalition and Hindi Water Portal are going to share content. One aspect is bringing you stories from the field in India reported on HWP by its network of reporters. HWP covers issues related to water and sanitation predominantly in North and Central India - some of the most challenging areas for sanitation in India. We hope these stories raise awareness of ground-level issues, and lead to the application of solutions on the ground from the collective expertise of the SuSanA India Chapter.

HWP is a website that shares knowledge and builds communities around water and related issues in India. Managed by Arghyam, the Portal has become a valuable archive of resources, working papers, reports, data, articles, news, events, opportunities and discussions on water.

Hindi Water Portal works through a network of contributors across the Hindi speaking belt in India, publishing articles on local water issues and in some instances, influencing advocacy at various levels of government through its reporting. Many Hindi Water Portal stories have been reprinted in local Hindi newspapers.

In order to share these stories from the field with a global community, six stories have been translated into English and will be shared subsequently on the SuSanA Forum. We hope to provoke a discussion that can be fed back to the Hindi Water Portal.

We hope you will read and comment on these stories.

Regards
Nitya Jacob
(Coordinator SuSanA India Chapter)

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  • nityajacob
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  • Water Policy Analyst and Author; Moderator of the ISC-SuSanA India Chapter
  • Posts: 127
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  • Likes received: 53

Re: Thank God the forest is nearby, otherwise where will we go for defecation?

By: Prem Pancholi
College students are forced to go out in the open to use a toilet.
Recently, there was news from the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand that all houses in the dis-trict have toilets. However, during a field visit, it was found that there is one college named Gevala Brahmakal Government College in the district where 422 students still urinated in the open. Of these, 200 were female students. Four toilets had been built in the college premises, but these toilets have never been used.

It must be highlighted that on the one hand, Swachh Bharat Mission is being encouraged and on the other hand, these 422 students continue to urinate in the open as their college toilets are in poor shape. In spite of being provided with toilets, they prefer not to use them. This College, Genvala Brahmakal, is around 40 km away from Uttarkashi district headquarters, not even in remote location. It is situated on the main road leading to the religious sites of Yamunotri and Gangotri.

Many government officials take this route regularly. Also, three legislators of the Ut-tarkashi district use the road often. But no one has ever considered the problem of the stu-dents. Genvala Brahmkhal is a developing town with market places. There are many afflu-ent and powerful families in the town. Even the current principal of this school is a local resident of the town.

Poor Condition of School Toilets
It is not like there has never been a toilet in the school premises but the stories related to toilets made by the school are shocking. Students said the school has had toilets since the building was constructed, but they were showpieces. They have never been used as toilets. The students said that they are very fortunate to have a forest very close to their school, i.e., at the upper end of their school campus. This makes urinating in the open easy.

There are two ways to go to the forest near the school. Boys use one way and the girls use the other. That is why they do not face problems. They also shared that this facility is lim-ited to only urinating. If they go for urination in the forest, they miss lessons and are at risk of attack by animals.

Some students said the school teachers and other staff members use the toilets of the hotels in the Brahmakhal market. Therefore, they do not bother about the condition of the school toilets. The principal is a local resident and can go to his home when needs to use the toilet. Some girls said sometimes they have to control themselves from urinating till they get back home but this has affected their health. Students have narrated their toilet troubles to prom-inent visitors but no one has tried to remedy the situation.

There is no lack of space for toilets in the school premises and toilets were built along with the main school building. The four toilets were built in 1982. But the school management never bothered about their utility. Their design is faulty and are kept locked.

Sumeer Singh Bhandari, Principal of the college, said when they started using toilets, the pipes got choked so they had to lock them. After that incident, they have never been used. When he became principal of the school, he re-opened the toilets and found the soak pits of toilets were present but the waste was not reaching them. The pipes were choked. He said the number of students was increasing in the school for which nine rooms were constructed in the school premises under the national middle school education scheme in 2014.

The soak pits of the toilets were damaged during the construction of these classrooms. Now there is a dire need to make new toilets in the school. The school has nearly the same num-ber of number of male and female students. Staff and students face a huge problem of lack of toilets even though the Brahmakal market is next to the school premises.

This school has busted the image of Uttarkashi fitted with toilets.

It is not a coincidence that the slogans used for Swajal Project are also related to the same problem. These are: No one should defecate in open, toilets in every house, Uttarkashi is now fitted with toilets, etc. These slogans are made to encourage people to use toilets.
Rakesh Jhakmola, Managing Director of Swajal Project, Uttarkashi, said they are not mak-ing toilets in schools and colleges anymore. The authorities of Swajal project used to trans-fer the money to the concerned department to make toilets in schools and colleges until Oc-tober 2014. Now, they only work for public awareness and encouragement.

In response to a question whether there is a toilet in every house, he said that he assumed it to be true. He had no information however, on whether those toilets were being used. He stated that, in general, toilets were used in the government buildings by the people. The Col-lege is an exceptional case where toilets were not being used by anyone.

Ramesh Chand Arya, Chief Education Officer of the Uttarkashi District, said that he has inspected the College. He has asked the principal to send a proposal to the District Head-quarters for the construction of toilets in the school so that this problem could be resolved.

Lack of cleaners in the school
Another problem of this school is that it does not have cleaners. All the students run a cleanliness drive once a week to keep the school premises clean. There is one 200 litre wa-ter tank which provides drinking water in the school premises. There is a proper system for water in the school complex. There are vacant places in the premises where the toilets can be constructed. Thus, the main question which arises is that why aren’t all the principals taking charge of the old locked toilets till now and not doing something about it.

None of the principals have felt the need for toilets in the school. As per the present scenar-io, there must be toilets in the school as Uttarkashi district has claimed itself to be open defecation free. Our Prime Minister has also asked everyone to be sensitive towards toilets and cleanliness. Even after all this, the main school in Genvala Brahmkhal which is just 40 km away from the district headquarters, does not have functioning toilets. This belies the claims of the 'cleanliness mission'.

The story of State Intermediate College, Genvala Brahmakhal, confirms that when the dis-trict administration cannot make a toilet in the school premises which is just 40 km away from Uttarkashi district, what will be the possible condition of the remote schools of the district? The irony is that the district administration claims Uttarkashi to be a toilet fitted district. If this is true, then where are the toilets in the State Intermediate College, Genvala Brahmkhal? Why do those 422 students from that school have to go in the open for defeca-tion today? This proof is enough to burst the bubble of truth that Uttarkashi district is toilet fitted.

http://hindi.indiawaterportal.org/paas-mein-jangal-hai-varana-shauch-kahaan-jaateYou can read the original post on the Hindi Water Portal at this link.:
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