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  • Writer's pictureDean Clark

Sanitation in India

Infamous for sooty air, polluted water, and generally troublesome sanitation, India has made many strides in the past few years but still has much to do in order to improve sanitation. Due to a lack of access to toilets, many problems like clean drinking water, disease spreading, and contamination can arise.

According to Unicef, in 2015 568 million people were forced to defecate in fields or open areas due to lack of sufficient toilets, more than 90% of the people that do so in South Asia and half of the people in the world that did so. In 2019, the number of people was decreased to 450 million, but still is far from over.

The Swachh Bharat, or Clean India mission was founded by India’s Prime Minister in 2014 to try to fix this widespread issue. Defecation can spread cholera, typhoid, COVID-19, among others. While overpopulation and lack of sanitation of infrastructure has led to this problem and still occurs today, Modi, the Prime Minister, practically declared that he had overcome the defecation problem in October of 2019.

There are a few reasons why open defecation still happens in the nation. As mentioned before, overpopulation and lack of toilets is one of the main reasons for this problem, but is actually most common in more rural areas of India. As well as this, culturally, bathrooms are seen as unclean and put outside the house, and some feel that open defecation is more sanitary. Even if the government builds new bathrooms and toilets, people still do not always use them because of miscommunication about safety.

Besides the Swachh Bharat, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge encourages development of new and cheap toilets in rural areas of India that can be put practically anywhere. World Toiletday, November 19, is another way to raise awareness for the lack of toilets and open defecation problem in India. While not all people can use it, Google Maps now shows the locations of 57,000 public toilets in India to raise awareness and promote use of them. Finally, firms like Garv Toilets aim to make clean, new, easy to maintain toilets all around India.

The Ganges River provides water for around 400 million Indians, yet cities directly inject sewage and other pollution into it, making it unsafe to bathe or drink. 88 million people lack access to sustainable water, whether it is clean or not. In fact, because of the lack of public and safe toilets, women have a substantially higher chance of being sexually assaulted.

To conclude, the bulk of bad sanitation in India comes from water, and really needs to be targeted in order to improve the health and wellbeing of citizens. Due to open defecation in fields and other public areas, water sources can become contaminated, leading to countless diseases being spread. The country as a whole needs to keep addressing the issues, as well as better education on sanitation and better access to public or private toilets will all in all improve the growing problem of sanitation in India.

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