News

Indian Group Promotes Development by Bringing Water, Toilets to 700 Million People

Hundreds of millions of homes across India lack running water and, therefore, toilets - which leads to disease and has social implications. Sulabh International, a private Indian group, is working to change the situation by building public toilets across the country.

At the Old Delhi Railway Station in the heart of India's capital, tens of thousands of people arrive everyday from all over the country, often to seek better opportunities for themselves and their families.

But first things first. Many are also often seeking a toilet.

Across the street from the train station is a public facility run by Sulabh International, a private Indian organization that promotes better sanitation for millions of urban and rural poor.

The two-story structure holds a total of 15 shower stalls and 36 toilets, for men and women. All are squat toilets, which require less water to operate.

Kashi Nath Jhe supervises the toilet facility.

He says the toilet facility has really cleaned up this part of the city, because before it opened, people used to defecate along the train tracks or on the road - or wherever they wanted. The area was filthy, he says, but the new toilets have really helped.

In a country with about one billion people, the sanitation implications are enormous. Sulabh International estimates that 120 million homes across the country still have no toilets, meaning 700 million people have to do without.

Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International, says lack of toilets is a major cause of disease, which is compounded by the fact that many poor Indians do not wear shoes.

"So most of the diseases are caused by transmitting diseases from their feet and coming to their stomach - and they develop hookworm, roundworm, etc," he said. "And children in India, in rural areas, specifically, you will see that their hands and elbows are all thin, but their stomachs [are] big, only because the blood is sucked by those bacteria."

Sulabh International has built some 6,000 public toilet and bathing facilities in slums, public parks and at religious sites across the country. It also promotes the construction of basic toilets in private homes, which can be installed for as little as $10 each.

A lack of sanitation facilities is not just India's problem. The United Nations estimates 2.6 billion people globally have no access to water and, therefore, toilets.

One United Nation's Millennium Development project aims to halve that number by 2015. For India, that may be difficult to achieve.

"It's a huge challenge and the money required can run into billions of dollars," said Ghanasham Abhyankar, a sanitation engineer at the World Bank office in New Delhi. "That is trying to reach - not piped water to everybody - but the basic service level, as we call it, which is 40 liters per capita per day. And sanitation means that everybody at least has a private latrine."

New Delhi's diplomatic district, Chanakyapuri, is also home to a Sulabh International toilet facility, located across the street from an embassy.

The organization accepts donations of land from private owners or municipal governments to build the toilet facilities. The fee it charges to use the toilets - the equivalent of about four U.S. cents - covers maintenance costs.

Still, Sulabh International's Abha Bahadur says, the organization wants to get India's wealthy more involved in this project.

"What you are seeing here is a very posh area, a very nice area - though it has a big park at the back, so we have a lot of people coming here," he said. "The rich do have a problem if they see people defecating outside in the park, which is next to their house. Then they wake up and say, we must have a public toilet here, we don't like to see the sight. We are trying to encourage the public sector and the corporate sector to come forward."

The lack of toilets across India has social implications as well. It is affecting the education of girls. With no toilets in many schools, girls often quit rather than risk being seen relieving themselves outdoors. Others, also through modesty, choose not to relieve themselves, which causes infections and illness. And that is just one example of how lack of toilets hinders social and economic growth.

Experts say if India wants to become a fully developed nation, modern sanitation facilities are not just a convenience; they are a necessity.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs