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To-Let Toilets

I was surprised to see the toilet locked. In this village of some twenty homes, I had managed to convince everyone to construct their personal toilets. They had done that. But why would anyone lock their toilets when everyone has it around?

I asked the man why he had done that. He, little embarrassed said that villagers no longer used those toilets. He said they ‘do’ it in their fields itself and it was more convenient for them. This hamlet has no scarcity for water, but still they all feel these modern (Indian) toilets are inconvenient and they like it in the ‘open’. I was relieved to hear that they locked the toilets so that they can be used in ‘future’ during festivals when guests arrive.

With great fanfare we had ‘forced’ people to have toilets in their homes, but I was always apprehensive about this ‘enforcement’.

You can not change habits easily. Now I see these toilets having been turned into store rooms, dustbins, etc.

It is really hard for these folks to break the old habits. Even women are comfortable going outside.

Most of them who constructed their toilets did it under force and coercion. The motive for most of them was Rs 3000  we paid for each individual toilet. That was the only reason, as far as I know more than 80% of them constructed their toilets.

I believe that change has to be gradual. Villages don’t look beautiful (nirmal gram) just because everyone has got toilets in their homes. There should be a proper drainage system; good roads; wastage disposal mechanism(a big challenge); and above all high standards of living. The latter comes only with high income i.e., employment or profit from farming. To sum up, eradication of poverty is the sole answer for this. Though education plays great role, without money you have to be subsistent and live a meager life.

I can not say all the efforts we put in was waste. As there is infrastructure in place, someday in future these toilets will be useful. Till then let them lock them or rent them (to-let) or whatever, I am optimistic that those locks will be opened to let in the light into their lives, which at the moment is shitty.