Aditya Vaibhav | The TrickyScribe: Sanitation is by no means a small talk topic: what happens in the bathroom is meant to stay there. Let us take a closer look at the speed and direction of the same in India this Independence Day.
India is experiencing a revolution in toilet-building. Just under 40 percent of the country’s population had access to a household toilet when Narendra Damodardas Modi swore in as Prime Minister, a situation he vowed to change by investing billions of rupees. He launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan marking Gandhi Jayanti in 2014 with the goal of eliminating open defecation and manual scavenging within five years.
Over 80 million toilets have been built in India since then. As many as 419 districts are now marked open defecation free. The share of the population with access to a toilet has also been climbing steadily and stands at 89 percent while going to press, as per the data made available by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
READ MORE: Vertical farming to cut down operating costs
Sanitation has been a topic shrouded by misconceptions and is often considered forbidden across societies. People just don’t open up. They neither ventilate their own feelings nor are they open to suggestions. It is, however, exactly the same taboo that the UN attempting to tackle – the consequences of this silence are severe. Close to 3.5 lakh children, aged under five, died from diarrheal diseases due to poor sanitation in 2013. Women and girls are especially vulnerable when it comes to lack of improved sanitation facilities.
Together with Statista, The TrickyScribe had a glance at how access to sanitation improved within past ten years and where more progress is needed. While Eastern Asia shows significant improvement, the situation in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa is different. Here, the improvements were outpaced by population growth.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the population almost doubled since 1990 while in Eastern Asia, it increased by a fifth. It is also due to these numbers that despite (moderate) efforts on sanitation being made, almost as many people (even more in Sub Saharan Africa) lack access to proper sanitation as ten years ago.
Chronic lack of toilets
There is still a chronic lack of toilets, driving people to defecate outdoors across countries. Just under a billion people defecate in open across the globe and it’s a problem that results in widespread disease and millions of deaths. (Worldwide data depicting open defecation rates in 2015)
The UN in 2015 called for putting an end to open defecation by 2030. Countries like Vietnam have had considerable success eradicating it. Others are still struggling.
According to a 2015 World Bank study, 40 percent Indians defecated outdoors. Farmlands, railway lines and areas adjoining water bodies being the favourite locations. It is also common across Africa where the highest rates were recorded. Eritrea had the highest rate at 76 percent, followed by Niger (71 percent) and Chad (68 percent).