What do you do when you have to answer Nature’s call? No, you do not wonder how Nature managed to get your number and call you up on the cell. Nature’s call is when you feel the urge go to the toilet. Typically this would mean you going to the toilet to empty yourself, but there are so many people who have no toilet to go to. Which is why they end up urinating and defecating in the open near some roads, fields, or vast open lands.
Based on the joint estimates done by WHO and UNICEF in 2010, 15 percent of the people in the world defecate in the open because they don’t have access to a toilet. Indians make up 60% of these numbers. These are people who are exposed on to unhealthy, and unsanitary conditions on a daily basis. This impacts not just their own health but the health of the babies born in such areas. This impacts the future of our nation.
2.4 million children die under the age of 5 in India every year. 20%-25% of these are on account of diarrhea. The relationship to sanitation however has been made clear. If you look at India’s Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), then Infant Mortality Rate reduced by 4 infants per 1000. This clearly shows that with better sanitation and access to toilets, more children will live to fulfil their lives. Not just that, children who lived the first year of their lives in areas with better sanitation grew taller.
How does poor sanitation and lack of toilets affect health? It is simple. Defecating in the open can cause fecal matter to mix with the river’s water supply. The same water that will be then used in their homes for washing, drinking, and cooking. Not all people go to isolated fields or river banks to defecate. Children in particular are known to defecate near their houses. This causes an influx of flies and other germs in the vicinity of the home. On account on poor sanitation, the same hands that were used to clean or remove fecal matter may not be clean enough to prepare food, or wash clothes, and can lead to transmission of diseases.
This leads to a direct impact on the economy of the nation as well. Due to the lack of proper sanitation India faces a loss of 2.4 trillion INR every year, or a per capita loss of 2180 INR. Out of this, the largest chunk of 1.74 billion INR is spent on health (checkups, treatment, medicines and such). Of this, the poorer families suffer the most. Sometimes they lack the necessary funds to treat the illness of their children, or must suffer wage loss while they do so.
Sanitation and toilets are the basic rights of everyone. It is also something that we take for granted most of the time. Something that is as basic as a toilet or latrine is actually something that is out of reach for a large population of this country. This lack of facilities is not only affecting their daily lives by having them go away from their house to defecate, but also leads to many diseases. The severity is such that many children will not live beyond the age of 5. It cannot be stressed enough that it serves as a fundamental right of all citizens.
Domex, HUL’s flagship sanitation brand, currently runs the Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) programme. Domex Toilet Academy was launched on 19th November 2013. It aims to become a sustainable and long-term solution to provide sanitation that benefits the local community and helps stimulate the local economy. The Toilet Academy makes toilets accessible and affordable, while promoting the benefits of clean toilets & good hygiene. Our effort has resulted in bringing the change in the villages of Maharashtra and Orissa and we aim to build 24000 toilets by 2015 in rural areas faced with the problem of open defecation.
You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.
Written for the ‘Toilet for Babli’ at Indiblogger.