How many of us feel disgusted when we spot people defecating in open? We curse our system and move on. Do we really care about it? No, we don't! Honestly, even I didn't. We live far from such places to affect our peace of mind. But unfortunately, I knew someone who had a terrible time because of lack of sanitation facility. I am talking about my mother's maid in Ambala. I knew she had a proper pukka house; but one day when she told me that she didn't have a toilet and goes out in open, I was shocked. Not that defecating in open was new to me but she lived in a nearby developed village, which by no means showed a sign of backward India.
Later, I discussed this problem with my mother, who revealed that many people in our village in Himachal defecate in open and such a practice is quite common. I always associated defecating with slumps and it presented a harsh reality to me of people I personally knew. For me it was a difficult thing to fathom what those women go through. It goes without saying that defecating in open has health issues but think how difficult it is for those women when they have having their menstrual cycle. And what about the children, they are more prone to diseases spread by such unhealthy environment. Later, I read that hundreds of people die of preventable diseases each year which are caused due to lack of proper sanitation. It came as a bigger shock to learn that 2.5 billion people defecate in open according to a UN report and the worst part is India tops the list with 600 million people.
Now we all must be thinking why our government is not doing anything about it. Well, there are programs but all lack proper implementation. Funds allocated for improving sanitation conditions hardly reach those who need it, sanitation facilities run by government are not maintained properly and as usual, there are more people than the number of toilets available. There are portable toilets at some places but they have the same issues as with other government programs. Later, I observed while commuting to college that even good administrations like that of Union Territory Chandigarh can't handle this issue efficiently. So, now the question is how can we deal with it? We can't leave something which is causing health issues and staggering number of deaths in our country.
Answer to this lies in spreading awareness and launching a larger campaign where all can join hands to work towards the cause of providing proper sanitation to all those who can't afford it. We need to educate people of health hazards associated with defecating in open and teach them the importance of maintaining cleaner toilets. We also need to tell people how to use public toilets and leave it clean as a courtesy to the people who will be using it next. We have to imbibe cleaner habits. Recently, Domex India launched a campaign called #ToiletForBabli where their goal is to make villages in India 'Open Defecation Free.' We all can contribute to this worthy cause, just click on the 'Contribute Tab' on www.domex.in and eradicate open defecation from our country and pave way for healthier and cleaner India.
I believe that with proper implementation of government programs, well structured campaigns and more awareness, we can make India cleaner, healthier and open defecation free. Let's make India clean and build enough toilets for children like Babli.