In a recent Rajya Sabha Session the Health and Sanitation Minister revealed that 67% of India's rural houses have no access to toilets. That is an alarming number by any standards. Community Correspondent Wamanrao Patil in his first ever video highlights the problems his Dalit community faces in the absence of toilets.
Nagubai Avatare a resident of Bramhanwada village in Amravati District Maharashtra recently spent 3 days hooked to a saline drip. She lives to retell the traumatic experience:
"We are forced to defecate in the open which attracts flies. These flies in turn sit on our food and we get infected."
A report by UN found that there was a greater disparity in access to toilets for Scheduled Caste and Tribes as compared to the general population. Under the Dalit Welfare Scheme, this village was supposed to get communal toilets four years ago. To this date only the walls for these toilets have been constructed and people continue to defecate on the sides of the roads or far away in the fields.
For the women of the community the situation is graver as they feel unsafe while going out on their own. Many have to wait till the early hours of the morning or late at night till they are able to find a private space. The delay, besides causing obvious discomfort poses serious health risks. Add to this equation the possibility of being assaulted on the journey to and from the open toilets.
Waman has experienced these issues firsthand. He says:
"I live in this village and I also go to the fields when I need to use the toilets. We've gotten used to it now but it is still unpleasant. My wife is an ASHA worker and often seen cases where children get gastroenteritis because they've eaten food which has probably been touched by flies."
There are 38 million people defecating in the open in Maharashtra alone. Though there has been an improvement from 2001, there is obviously need for rapid work to provide access to proper health and sanitation to all.
The process can start one village at a time. Do your bit.
Call to Action: Please call the Block Development Officer, Amravati on 07212662724 and ask him to ensure that toilets are built in this village.
Read More: http://www.unicef.org/india/WASH_ATLAS.pdf
Watch More: http://indiaunheard.videovolunteers.org/the-toilet-that-wasnt/
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