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SYNOPSIS: Insights 70 Days Ethics Plan – Day – 16


Insights 70 Days Ethics Plan 

Day – 16

  1. Sanitation and hygiene practices are influenced by people’s attitude and awareness towards it. But in Indian society, traditions also influence sanitation practices. As an administrator, what challenges you will face in changing people’s attitude towards sanitation and how will you change such attitude? Evaluate merits and demerits of your options


In India 70% of the rural households do not have a toilet . Now, like healthcare, sanitary toilet facilities are a necessity, and not a privilege

Traditions influencing sanitation practices:-

Continuing practice of untouchability in villages also means that upper castes won’t carry the task of emptying pit latrines  and Dalits, historically expected to be manual scavengers, are emancipating themselves

Open defecation, in rural areas where it is widely practiced, is not just socially acceptable, but is seen as a wholesome activity associated with health, strength and masculinity.

There is no lack of awareness about cleanliness and hygiene, purity-related caste convictions prevent people from constructing and using toilets near their homes.

Ample availability of space in Gujarat’s tribal villages prevents villagers from viewing open defecation as dirty. Feelings of claustrophobia and the stench from the unclean toilets are some of the reasons people keep away from confined toilets. 

Challenges faced by administrators :-

Building any number of toilets is futile if they’re not sustainable. Issues are  there is no running water, electricity, and connections to sewerage lines for proper waste disposal. Biotoilets are a better solution in this case.

The real challenge lies in getting people to use them. Modifying behaviour and motivating people to abandon open defecation are considered rural sanitation challenges. The correlation between bad sanitation and ill health need to be clearly explained. 

Practice of open defecation gets further reinforced when children go to local anganwadis that often lack clean toilets.

Financial and physical infrastructure constraints such as lack of water and space keep them from constructing latrines in their villages. Most villagers lacked clarity about the health impacts, especially the oral-fecal contamination route.

How to change such attitude :-

Home visits and interpersonal communication are the most effective methods to elicit sanitation behaviour change. So through persuasion this can be done. Once people understand they can emulate the means to eradicate open defecation. However attitude take a lot of time to change .

The overall strategy of behaviour change must be open to and address barriers influenced by caste, gender and other local variables. Reasons for specific preferences need to be understood before imposing new controls and restrictions. This will bring long lasting changes as grassroot issues are tackled. However these changes might take time.

Sanitation-related communication should highlight health implications of poor hygiene and focus on safe disposal of faeces instead of just fixating on toilet construction.

Society can be voluntarily involved with some groups in villages like vanar sena who popularize the concept of toilet construction by making people aware of adverse effects of open defecation. As strong cohesion among community is available in rural areas people might listen to them easily. However highlighting families who are not being part of this campaign might stigmatise these families.

Safe septage management needs to be promoted, both in the urban and rural context, to tackle India’s mounting sanitation challenges in a holistic manner.

For better health outcomes combination of the above mentioned ways is necessary. This could lead to change.