Earlier this year WHO declared 19th November as World Toilet Day. This blog post is to create awareness regarding this issue.
When I was about 6 years old, I moved from a Metropolitan to my native village for sometime due to some family business. At that time, there was no electricity available. Having toilet facility was considered as a luxury. Majority people were deprived of basic sanitation facilities and would go to fields to defecate.
People would normally urinate in house or fields. However for men it was bit easier because they could even do it in some lonesome corner of street too. Female would be very careful about their whereabouts, they would relieve themselves either in house or in fields. Normally a secluded place in house was allocated for this purpose.
For defecating, people would go to fields very early morning or night time, normally night time was preferred. However anyone can pop in any time in the fields but you would not feel comfortable carrying a vessel of water for washing up later. This process was also done by using a clean lump of mud in absence of water.
Men would go alone in fields, as safety wasn’t much of concern to them. Female from a house would gather in groups due to safety concern. They would normally accompany very young boys and girls with them to develop this habit in them. People would carry a vessel of water with them called ‘Lota’. In field they would separate themselves and make themselves at ease. But to me this whole situation was very funny as I came from a city.
Sometime it would involve cleaning yourself with lump of mud than later on with water, but some people preferred washing with water directly. Anyways in case of absence of water, lump of mud was always the only option.
For children, it was bit easier. They would go outside the house during day time and will relieve themselves and then there was a particular thing ‘sliding their bum on the cleaner ground’ to clean. Majority of them would not bother to get washed.
In my village things changed after arrival of electricity as people started making toilets but this practice is still going on in poor families where they either cannot afford to build toilet or are not much concerned with hygiene and safety etc. People, in my village, were lucky as they lived in a peaceful and safer community. But later in my life, I would often read news in papers, women being raped or abused while making trip to defecate.
According to few recent tweets by World Health Organization (WHO), “Poor sanitation creates conditions for serious health probs such as diarrhoea, typhoid fever, malnutrition, polio.” Regarding safety it says “Women, girls particularly are risking their lives looking for a place that offers privacy to defecate, risking rape and abuse”.
The sadder fact is that “Of the world’s 7b population, 6b have mobile phones. Only 4.5b have access to toilets or latrine” and “More than 2b people in the world have no access to a toilet, half of these live in the WHO South-East Asia Region.” But things have got little better, “In the WHO South-East Asia Region 60% of the pop defecated in the open in 1990. This had come down to 39% by 2010”
It’s a good step from WHO to declare a World Toilet Day and to discuss this issue on international level but still “UN Millennium Development Goals: of all 2015 targets sanitation target is most behind. 1 in 3 people do not have a basic toilet”.
We have to work together to do humanitarian measures and to create awareness to make healthier and safer societies.