ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Role of Development

Sanitation and Hygiene in India

Using data from the India Human Development Survey, this examination of toilet possession and personal hygiene in India shows that the strongest influences on households in India having a toilet were their circumstances: standard of living, educational level, and whether they possessed ancillary amenities. However, toilet possession depended also on households’ social environment; households in more developed villages were more likely to have a toilet than those in less developed villages. Open defecation is due to a lack of development and not because caste, ritual pollution, and untouchability instil in rural Indians a preference for defecating in the open.

It is universally accepted that poor sanitation and hygiene are a major cause of disease in developing countries. In India, poor sanitation takes the form of an absence of toilets in households’ dwellings, which, ipso facto, compel their members to defecate in the open. This practice spreads bacterial infections, which in turn have repercussions on child development (Augsburg and Rodríguez-Lesmes 2018). Moreover, poor hygiene, particularly the failure of mothers to wash hands after defecation, is a prime cause of diarrhoea in children in developing countries (Borooah 2004; Huang and Zhou 2007; Ejemot-Nwadiaro et al 2015).

Open defecation also affects women’s well-being. Azeez et al (2019) interviewed women in five villages in Rajasthan, all of whom declared that a toilet was a necessity at home. For these women, defecating in the open was a source of fear, shame, and humiliation, with pregnant or menstruating women most affected by the exigencies of open defecation. Violence against women often occurred in situations in which they were defecating in the open (Sarah et al 2014; Saleem et al 2019), and although instances of violence took place under the cover of darkness, the shame of open defecation often required women to wait till dark before they could attend to their bodily functions.

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Updated On : 1st Dec, 2020

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