World Toilet Day- Open Defecation
This year we celebrated world toilet day on 19 November. This made me think hard, why is it so important to sensitize things as basic as the toilet. According to one study about 600 million or nearly half of the total population of our country lack basic sanitation and hence are forced to defecate in open. Around the world, about 2.4 billion people lack basic sanitation facility and about 1 billion defecate in open. Hence, the problem of open defecation is of concern at the global level and being the global leader India has to lead on this front.
Problem with Open Defecation
Open defecation in itself a humongous problem and also root cause of many other problems one face in developing and under developed countries. The main problem of poor sanitation and open defecation has increased the risk of disease and malnutrition. Mostly children and women are more prone to risk as compared to men.
It also poses security issue as women and girls risk rape and abuse because they don’t have proper sanitation facility that offer privacy. Usually, women and girls go for open defecation wee hours in the morning or in dark after sunset. Such conditions increase the risk many folds.
Impact on health
In terms of health impact, open defecation is leading cause of diarrheal death. Open defecation can lead to water pollution when rain runs over feces and get mixed with surface water or unprotected well which could be the source of drinking water for surrounding area. This could lead to waterborne diseases, which are transmitted via fecal pathogen in water. The main diseases which could be the result of open defecation include diarrhea, intestinal worm infection, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, polio, trachoma and many others.
World toilet organization
World toilet organization which was founded in 2001 has worked in this direction to provide basic sanitation to all. Through this organization, he aims of creating a global network wherein all organization working for toilet and sanitation can share and learn from each other and can influence governments t0 form policies and promote sanitation and public health.
Similar are the views of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, "The 2030 Agenda calls on us to renew our efforts in providing access to adequate sanitation worldwide. We must continue to educate and protect communities at risk, and to change cultural perceptions and long-standing practices that hinder the quest for dignity."
What’s in for this year?
This year main focus would be on the linking between sanitation and nutrition. Organizations should work to draw the attention to the importance of toilets in supporting better nutrition and improved health. Poor health and malnutrition are not just because we lack food to eat but also because we lack the access to clean drinking water proper sanitation facility and absence of good hygienic practice.
India is working on the mission of providing toilets and sanitation, running water facilities to all people under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan flagship program of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan which was started on October 2, 2014. Many politicians and celebrities participated in raising awareness about the issue, to make country clean by 2019.
Things we do on this day
As on this day we need to sensitize people about the problem of inadequate sanitation, people are encouraged to take action and contribute what they can. People promote the idea of more things that can be done to uplift the condition. In many places people hosts exhibition, workshop, draw cartoons or host dinner – anything catchy enough to pass the message of the urgency of proper sanitation.