Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Start with toilets
Sudheendra Kulkarni writes in the Indian Express that India's drive towards becoming a developed nation must begin with providing toilets for its citizens. And how do things stand now? He tells us:
Consider the statistics about the Total Sanitation Campaign, the centrally sponsored scheme of the ministry of rural development. Of the 138 million rural households, only 23.7 per cent have own toilets. The coverage in a state like Bihar is as low as 6.5 per cent, with BPL (below poverty line) households accounting for a paltry 0.7 per cent! Even in a rich state like Maharashtra, the coverage is only 19 per cent. The percentage of schools having toilets is 43 per cent and many of them are of very poor standards.The solution for problems such as this, in my view, is more likely to come from within communities, and via private enterprise and money (by which I means NGOs more than Nike), than from the government. Read Kulkarni's full piece, it's a valuable update on what is happening in this context, and on what remains to be done.
Is there is a solution? Yes. It has three components: massive public and private investment in sanitation; major efficiency enhancement in the functioning of panchayats, municipal bodies, and government departments; and, above all, large-scale people’s participation through organised voluntary action and penalty for offenders.