A study by WaterAid has painted a grim picture of sanitation problem in India saying that the country has the longest queues for toilets in the world.
The report, which has been published ahead of 19 November, World Toilet Day, says that the toilet queue would need more than 5,892 years to get cleared assuming that each Indian needs about four minutes in a toilet.
The study, as well as highlighting the sanitation problem in India, also urges the need to end open defecation in the country.
The report said,”The resulting health crisis is a serious matter. More than 140,000 children younger than five years die each year in India from diarrhea. Nearly 40 per cent of India’s children are stunted; this will affect both their life chances and the future prosperity of India.”
Apart from it being a sanitation concern, the open defecation has also been linked to the growing incidents of rapes. Around 65% of the rural population in India defecates in the open as only 22% of the state’s households have toilets.
The WaterAid report also added that almost 173 people defecated in the open for every square kilometer in India, thereby giving the country the dubious distinction being the first in the world in this category.
“That ratio would be the same as 500 people having to defecate in the open in the Square Mile of the City of London, or 15,000 people in Manhattan, New York City,” the report showed.
According to the report, even countries like Nepal, Togo and Benin, are better than India with considerably lesser number of people defecating in the open per square kilometers.
Commenting on Prime Minister Swacch Bharat campaign, which aims to make India open defecation free by 2019, the report said, “(For this campaign)To succeed, more funding, greater government prioritization at all levels and a focus on changing people’s behavior to ensure everyone uses these new toilets will be required. If just one person continues to defecate in the open, the environment remains polluted for everyone.”
In 2014, Mint reported that ‘the link between the lack of toilets and sexual assault is not limited to rural India, even though the risk is higher in rural areas because women have to go out into isolated fields, making them more vulnerable to assault.’
A 2012 study on urban sanitation by Pune-based philanthropist organization, Dasra, found that as many as 30% women who live in slums in towns and cities are assaulted as the lack of a toilet at home forces them to go outdoors either late at night or early in the morning.
A 2010 study by the Water and Sanitation Programme of the World Bank estimated that inadequate sanitation costs India $53.8 billion annually. This was equivalent to 6.4% of India’s gross domestic product in 2006 and was mainly due to health costs and premature deaths.