|The Founder of Sulabh International, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak listens to the grievances of the villagers of Chap Municipality|
Over 500 residents of four villages in Chap municipality in Siwan district on Bihar State will be sleeping with hopeful smiles on their faces after the promise of the construction of toilets.
Speaking at a brief meeting the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation founder, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak said that the construction would start early next month and ensured everyone would get one.
|Villagers without toilets raise their hands in testimony|
"It is saddening to hear that all these people in these villages are forced to ease themselves in the open because they lack toilets. I will make sure that within a year, all will get toilets such that women especially don't have to walk long distances and in the dark to ease themselves," he said.
|Women with gloomy faces|
Dr Pathak who is in his home town for a video shot for a documentary conducting by a team from California led by Ms Lily Zepeda that features leading personalities in the sanitation sector, promised also to buy 25 sewing machines that will be placed in the newly built Sulabh training center within the municipality.
The Sanitation Updates Portal states that the lack of safe toilets for women and girls is often linked to an increased risk of sexual harassment and rape. Earlier studies from Kenya, Uganda and India, and now a recent BBC news item are some of the few sources to actually quantify this risk.
|Finally smiles of hope|
Senior police official Arvind Pandey from the Indian state of Bihar told the BBC recently that 400 women would have “escaped” rape in 2012 if they had toilets in their homes. The rapes take place when women go outside to defecate early in the morning and late evening. These “sanitation-related” rapes make up nearly half of the more than 870 cases of rape in Bihar in 2012.
In Bihar, 75.8 per cent of homes have no toilet facilities (Census 2011). Some 49 per cent of the households without a toilet wanted one for “safety and security” for women and children, according to a study by Population Service International (PSI), Monitor Deloitte and Water for People.
According to an article in LiveMint, data has been released by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) from a survey conducted in 2012; which has once again underlined the abysmal state of sanitation in the country, particularly in rural India.
According to this survey, only 32 per cent of rural households have their own toilets and that less than half of Indian households have a toilet at home. There were more households with a mobile phone than with a toilet.
In fact, the last Census data reveals that the percentage of households having access to television and telephones in rural India exceeds the percentage of households with access to toilet facilities. Of the estimated billion people in the world who defecate in the open, more than half reside in India.
Poor sanitation impairs the health leading to high rates of malnutrition and productivity losses. India’s sanitation deficit leads to losses worth roughly 6 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) according to World Bank estimates by raising the disease burden in the country.
Children are affected more than adults as the rampant spread of diseases inhibits children’s ability to absorb nutrients thereby stunting their growth.
UNICEF statistics reveal that drinking-water coverage in 2011 remains at 89 per cent – which is 1 per cent above the MDG drinking-water target. In 2011, 768 million people relied on unimproved drinking-water sources. Sanitation coverage in 2011 is 64 per cent.
The world remains off track to meet the MDG sanitation target of 75 per cent and if current trends continue, it is set to miss the target by more than half a billion people.
By the end of 2011, there were 2.5 billion people who still did not use an improved sanitation facility. The number of people practicing open defecation decreased to a little over 1 billion, but this still represents 15 per cent of the global population.
For both water and sanitation there continue to be major disparities among regions. Sanitation coverage is lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and South Asia, where 70 per cent and 64 per cent and 59 per cent of people do not have access to improved sanitation respectively.
For water, coverage is only 56 per cent in Oceania and 63 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa, but all other regions have coverage rates of 86 per cent or higher. Other disparities also continue: poor people and people living in rural areas are far less likely to have access to improved water and sanitation facilities than their richer and their urban compatriots.
It is not a coincidence that states with the poorest levels of sanitation and highest levels of population density such as Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh also have the highest levels of child malnutrition in the country.