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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.