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Where is India this World Toilet Day?

Anjali Dinesh

16th November 2020

(Source: Waterless)

On the 19th of November in 2001 a Singaporean businessman Jack Sim started a crusade for sanitation and founded The World Toilet Organisation. He declared the day as World Toilet Day. The basic idea behind it was that poor sanitation kills people and costs millions every year. In 2012, the principal trademark related to World Toilet Day came out and it was an offer to make individuals mindful about this important theme. The day was established to make people aware and start taking action regarding this crucial topic and in 2013, the UN adopted the day to educate billions of people who are affected due to the ill effects of open defecation.

The objective for this day is more than about toilets, this day is also about the most neglected sanitation topic which is open defecation. It is a day to fortify the "worldwide voice" on sterilisation issues and spotlights on bringing issues to light about the significance of disinfection for everybody, all over. On this day many organisations like The Toilet Board Coalition, World Health Organisation, United Nations Children’s Fund and among many others launch toilet-related reports. There is also a community sanitation-themed marathon named “Urgent Runs” which is held each year on this day, worldwide to call for earnest activity to end the crisis. The occasion means to bring everyone far and wide together to bring these issues to light on the worldwide sanitisation scenario.

Every year there is a different theme for this day. For 2020 World Toilet Day has been linked with Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change. Are you wondering what do toilets have to do with climate change? The answer is that the impacts of environmental change compromise disinfection frameworks, from latrines to septic tanks to treatment plants. For example, floodwater can harm latrines and spread human waste into water supplies causing and spreading illness, the flood water can also ruin food harvests and individuals' homes. These occurrences, which are getting more continuous as environmental change intensifies, cause general wellbeing crises and debase the climate.

So why exactly are toilets important for our healthapart from the obvious reasons? According to various research, surveys and studies 4.2 billion individuals live without access to securely overseen sterilisation. Rather they regularly utilise inconsistent latrines or practice open defecation. Untreated human waste gets out into the climate and spreads lethal and persistent illnesses. Sustainable sanitation systems, combined with the facilities and knowledge to practise good hygiene, are a strong defence against COVID-19 and future disease outbreaks even if many say otherwise.

How exactly can something as small as toilets help fight climate change? Globally, 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. This wastewater from toilets contains valuable water, nutrients and energy. Sustainable sanitation systems also make productive use of waste to safely boost agriculture (manure makes soil more fertile) and reduce and capture emissions for greener energy.

Wondering what exactly a sustainable sanitation system looks like? Practical sterilisation starts with a latrine that viably catches human waste in a sheltered, open and honourable setting. The squander then gets put away in a tank, which can be discharged later by an assortment administration, or shipped away by pipework like your regular toilets at homes and schools. The next stage is treatment and safe disposal where India still lacks due to lack of funding for proper and functioning treatment plants. Safe reuse of human waste enables spare water, diminishes and catches ozone harming substance outflows for energy creation, and can give horticulture a dependable wellspring of water and supplements.

So, where do we as a country stand in all of this? One of the most recent and one of the first suck initiatives were taken on the 2nd October in 2014, when the Modi government launched the Swachh Bharat Abhyan under which they launched Individual Household Latrine to focus on sanitisation of the country and its citizens. This program specifically focused on the construction and usage of toilets in villages and other tribal and rural areas of the country. Spreading hygiene awareness and the benefits of using toilets were also key to this scheme. The movie Toilet Ek Prem Katha describes best the difficulties of such schemes and zero acceptance to such progressive programs.

According to a recent survey done by an Independent Verification Agency The National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) in 2018-19, 96.5% of the households in rural India who have access to a toilet use it. The study has additionally re-affirmed the Open Defecation Free (ODF) status of 90.7% of towns which were recently proclaimed and checked as ODF by different areas and states. The survey was conducted between November 2018 and February 2019, covering 92,040 households in 6,136 villages across the country. Of course there are many more in reality and the results do not reflect the condition in all of those villages.

Other key findings of the survey were that nearly 93% households were found to have access to toilets during the survey period while 96.5% of the people who had access to toilets used them. 90.7% of villages which were previously declared and verified as ODF were confirmed to be ODF, the remaining villages also had sanitation coverage of about 93%, the survey shows. Further, 95.4% of the towns studies found to have insignificant litter and negligible stale water.

The Independent Verification Agency has introduced their discoveries to the Expert Working Group (EWG) established for oversight of the review, involving agents from associations including the World Bank, UNICEF, WaterAid, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, India Sanitation Coalition, NITI Aayog, and Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation. The study utilised the PPS (Probability Proportion to Size) examining philosophy, which yields results inside a certainty timespan was gathered utilising the Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing stage. The survey also covered schools, angan wadis and public or community toilets in these villages.

The public authority asserts that since its Swachh Bharat Mission program began in October 2014, 500 million individuals have quit defecating in the open, down from 550 million at the beginning of the program to under 50 million today. Over 9 crore latrines have been worked across provincial India under the Mission. Over 5.5 lakh villages and 615 districts have been declared ODF, along with 30 ODF States and Union Territories, as per the government.

Concluding and acknowledging everything above doesn’t mean that the war has been won, maybe a battle but people are still out there men and women who do not have access to toilets due to various reasons. As the youth of this country, it makes it our responsibility to spread awareness and make our country free of unhygienic practices. So, on the 19th of November, this year let us all spread awareness and raise concern regarding hygiene, toilets and how a mere thing we use daily may not be available to all and contributes a lot to the climate.

Edited by: Tanya Jain

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