The first five years of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan have been very successful with India attaining ODF status. Now the time has come to go beyond and make sanitation the viable economic and livelihoods opportunity it can be.
‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’
Keeping washrooms, especially public washrooms, clean is not just about hygiene but equally about odour elimination. And the best solutions for this can be found in nature, not in a chemistry lab.
Visiting a public washroom is often something we put off unless desperate. And it is not just because of the lack of hygiene. The odours from public washrooms are often just as off-putting.
5 years in, India’s Swachh Bharat Mission has succeeded in its ambitious goal of making India ODF. However, much still needs to be done before we can declare the project an unqualified success on all fronts.
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.
Air pollution in India has been at drastic levels for a while now. The Government has been taking baby steps to counter this. But this is not enough. We need urgent and immediate measures to reverse this and as with everything else, change happens at an individual level.
Already facing the worst water crisis in history, India ranks 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index, with the situation slated to get far worse. Projections state that the demand for water will be twice the available supply by 2030.
Sanitation is a vital part of human everyday life. We need to perform our bodily ablutions as a matter of routine, physiological processes to eliminate the waste from our body. Urine and feces are the end products of our metabolism. It is, however, also very important to properly dispose off this bodily waste, for both aesthetic and health reasons. Properly disposed off feces and urine ensure a clean, odourless environment, as well as prevent diseases due to microbes, like fecal coliform bacteria.
Access to clean toilets, with running water, electricity and sewerage connection, is a major issue for women and girls in India. Despite the fact that urination and defecation are basic bodily functions, 70% of households in rural and urban slums lack access to functioning toilets. 60% of the country still defecates in the open, with consequences ranging from polluted water bringing fatal infections to the women and children using it, to women carrying extreme risk of being sexually assaulted.