The Swachh Bharat story cannot become reality unless we ensure manual scavenging is actually eradicated. And this can only happen when we change individual practises and upgrade India’s sanitation infrastructure. And when we make sure we don’t treat lives of sanitation workers as disposable.
Untreated waste is not just a critical threat to public health, it is also a major threat to the environment. Toxic waste contaminates our air, soil and water, creating a cycle of harm breaking which will need all of us to make lifestyle changes at an individual level too.
Cleaning septic tanks and sewerage systems in India is often accompanied by loss of life because we still ask humans to get into septic tanks and manholes to clean them. It doesn’t have to be this way. We have a natural solution that is much easier and better for the environment too.
Solid waste management is fast becoming an urban crisis in cities all across India. Managing this will require individuals to also support civic bodies and be conscious of the waste they generate. An ideal start would be waste segregation and for all housing societies to start composting organic waste.
Often, we become aware of some of the most important things in life only when they misbehave or stop working. Like our septic tanks. We don’t even think about them till something starts to smell rotten. It is better instead to learn about septic tanks so you can ensure they stay working well.
Sanitation is crucially interlinked with health and nutrition in more ways than one may immediately realise. In India alone, the lethal effects of the link between inadequate sanitation and ill-health is visible in some very dismal numbers, especially in the health of India’s children.
Brazil and India have similar trajectories in industrialisation, population, rapid urbanisation and the need to implement quick solutions for civic issues. But Brazil has cracked the urban sanitation demon, providing workable solutions for its society and lessons for India.
There isn’t enough conversation about septic tanks in our regular day-to-day lives. As a consequence, we don’t know enough about septic tanks. What do they do and how do they work and how do we maintain them? These are all questions everybody should know the answers too.
Poor sanitation, lack of access to clean water, and inadequate personal hygiene are responsible for an estimated 88% of childhood diarrhea in India. Taking action to improve health requires understanding the factors that influence exposure to faecal pathogens and the various pathways in which they are exposed to human beings.
It is crucial to examine what goes into our waste water, and know and understand where it goes once it leaves our home. It is time to start examining what we put in our cleaning products and how toxic the waste water we create is. Because the health of our waterways, oceans and all the living beings depends on it.