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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora