Focus on sanitation infrastructure for sustainable practices, says Naina Lal Kidwai

The change in behaviour in terms of recognising hygiene is a part of rural and urban understanding now, says India Sanitation Coalition chair Naina Lal Kidwai.
Naina Lal Kidwai, India Sanitation Coalition chair
Naina Lal Kidwai, India Sanitation Coalition chair

NEW DELHI: One of the biggest issues in building toilets is behavioural change. Do you think it has been achieved in urban and rural areas?

The change in behaviour in terms of recognising hygiene is a part of rural and urban understanding now. Even if there were gaps, it was not difficult for us to revive that around COVID-19 where the message was again around hygiene. The issue remains infrastructure - if you do not have ready access to water, and a sanitiser, or schools not having access to water, then we are failing at the level of institutional delivery. The focus has to be on hygiene, sanitation and handwashing with the delivery of water, soap.

In the aftermath of toilet building, how do you think we can sustain the mission?

The statistics are compelling. But access to toilets is high in both rural and urban areas. The issue is how readily are people using them. The reasons often cited are toilets being broken down or maintenance and cleanliness of the toilet. So maintenance of toilets should be a high focus for us so that people are comfortable using it.

One of the basic tenets of ensuring sanitation is to ensure there is round-theclock water for functioning toilets. How can the usage of toilets be sustained if there is no water?

The rural toilet model, the gold-standard that was established by the ministry does not have a flushing mechanism. It needs minimal water. It is not very water concentrated. We need to continue to research techniques.

The success of toilets can happen if faecal sludge is managed properly. But faecal sludge management has not happened at a large scale yet... 

This is an important area. If we cannot deal with how to handle faecal sludge in a way it is safe for our health and the environment, then it would be a shame. But the good news is that the government recognises it. We have the honey suckers sucking the faecal sludge. The problem is where are they going to empty all this excreta? Because it is not properly regulated, they go to the ridge, open drain, and end up polluting clean water bodies.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express