Sanitation is an important aspect of human life. To eliminate waste from our bodies, we must complete our bodily ablutions as a matter of ordinary, physiological procedures. The end products of our metabolism are urine and faeces. However, for both cosmetic and health reasons, it is critical to appropriately dispose of this biological waste.
Faeces and urine should be properly disposed of to provide a clean, odourless environment and to prevent diseases caused by germs such as faecal coliform bacteria.
On the other hand, improperly dumped garbage emits a foul odour and serves as a breeding ground for infections. As a result, having adequate sanitation facilities for everyone is critical.
Unfortunately, reality does not always match the ideal. The state of sanitation in India is appalling. Not everyone has the 'advantage' of having toilet facilities at home. In reality, a study on sanitation in India, which has a population of 1.25 billion people, discovered that 70% of rural households lack a toilet or latrine.
What are the issues faced by India regarding sanitation?
Government programmes such as “Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan” and “Swacch Bharat” Scheme exemplifies this. Both initiatives have resulted in a large number of pit latrines being installed in rural areas, however, India has two sanitation issues:
1: It's pointless to construct a large number of toilets if they aren't sustainable, that is, if they lack running water, power, and connections to sewerage systems for proper waste disposal.
2: The job does not end with the construction of toilets; it also includes promoting awareness of their use among the local population.
Let's take a closer look at the second point.
In India, sanitation is not only a health or environmental concern but also a social one. In India, for example, there are religious and caste attitudes about physical ablutions and the treatment of urine and excrement. It's worth delving into what these ideas are, why they're harmful, and how they might be hindering people, particularly in rural areas, from adopting good sanitation measures.
What has been found in the studies regarding sanitation and cultural beliefs?
In recent years, studies in India's rural areas have found the following about caste and religious equations in terms of sanitation:
>In India, inexpensive latrines, which are common in other nations, are considered physically filthy and ritually polluting. Due to the continued practise of untouchability in villages, upper castes will not be responsible for emptying pit latrines, and Dalit’s, who have traditionally been considered manual scavengers, are emancipating themselves and refusing to clean other people messes.
>In rural communities where it is common, open defecation is not only socially acceptable, but also considered as a healthy behaviour linked with strength, masculinity, and health.
>No matter how clean latrines and toilets are kept, some individuals regard them as 'ritually filthy.'
>Aside from the obvious ones, there are certain items that are both ritually polluting and physically unclean, others that are both ritually polluting and physically filthy, and some that are neither ritually polluting nor physically unclean. Pit latrines are considered humiliating by persons who own them.
>The dislike of latrines stems from a desire to retain the 'purity' of the home. When individuals defend open defecation, they're stating that it's better to defecate far away from home and those who do build latrines do it frequently. This worry appears out of date, given that the elderly, children, and handicapped frequently defecate within the confines of the home or compound, with the excrement being disposed of by the women of the house.
>Expensive latrines with big pits or massive subterranean tanks are seen to be not just status symbols but also excellent toilets. On the other hand, latrines with smaller soak pits are frowned upon.
Many individuals are opposed to latrines due to erroneous fears about pit emptying. They believe that government-provided soak pits will fill in months rather than years, and they don't want to deal with the filthy, time-consuming chore of pit emptying. They don't realise that mechanical pit emptying is impractical; pits should only be emptied when the faeces have compacted. Frequently, low-cost latrines are constructed far away from sewage trucks, which are expensive to hire. As a result, soak pits are manually drained.