Digital Sanitation for Tech Savvy India Is The New Need Of The Hour

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Digital Sanitation for Tech Savvy India Is The New Need Of The Hour

Among other things, schools teach children the adage “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” and a few accompanying rhymes and limericks. However, the sad reality remains, that despite being taught, the benefits of hygiene and cleanliness, we are seldom able to follow them because of the lack of facilities. Littering of streets and open defecation continue to be a common sight in cities, and one can only imagine the situation prevalent in villages.

Hard-Hitting Facts about Sanitation in India – UNICEF has published in its report that 50 percent of India defecates in the open, which amounts to 450 million households. Roughly 10 percent of urban India defecates in the open while 61 percent of rural India has no access to toilets. The brevity of the situation strikes us when we realise that more rural households have access to expensive items like TV sets and cell phones compared to basic facilities like toilets.

Health Hazards Due to Lack of Sanitation – The need for proper sanitation cannot be emphasised enough.Unsanitary conditions lead to water and vector borne diseases like Diarrhoea, Urinary Tract Infection, Cholera, Typhoid and Infectious Hepatitis, which kills thousands every year. Treatment facilities for these diseases are not readily available, and the worst hit of the population are women and children. Diarrhoea is caused by poor hygiene and sanitation conditions and leads to malnutrition and stunted growth in children and even deaths, which are easily preventable among children under 3 years.  Thousands of deaths among children under the age of 5 years are caused by hepatitis and diarrhoea every year in India. The forcible use of shared toilets and open defecation made women susceptible to Urinary Tract Infections of different kinds and compromised menstrual health.

Allied Problems Associated with the Paucity of Sanitation – Lack of sanitation has not only affected women’s health but also their social being. Around 300 million women have no access to toilets in India, and open defecation has jeopardised them in several ways. Heinous crimes against women such as rapes, eve teasing, molestation and mugging occur at night time when they visit fields or open spaces by themselves for defecation.A US university research has revealedthat women who do not have access to toilets or sanitation facilities and have to venture out at night are twice as likely to become victims of non-partner sexual violence or NPSV. Therefore, simple and basic facilities like toilets can go a long way to ensure the safety of women in rural areas.

The lack of toilets at home has not only made the lives of women riskier but has also affected their education and social position adversely. Girl students have had to drop out of schools as they enter their teenage because of lack of separate toilet facilities in schools. In India, around 23 percent of girls drop out of schools by the time they are in their adolescence phase. They miss at least five days of school in a month while menstruating, as they cannot make use of the toilets.How much brighter our women would shine, had they been guaranteed access to sanitation facilities can only be imagined!

Government Initiatives to Promote Sanitation – The government has been quite proactive in promoting sanitation across the country. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, launched in 2014 on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, aims at increasing awareness regarding sanitation and hygiene through electronic and print media. Numerous celebrities have been roped in as brand ambassadors for the campaign such as Vidya Balan and Amitabh Bachchan to enhance the popularity of the campaign. The government has also committed to constructing 2 lakh toilets across 5000 villages by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The Nirmal Shahar Puraskar has been launched to award cities that are entirely open Defecation Free (ODF) and carry out safe disposal of waste.

Different corporates are also sponsoring sanitation campaigns as a part of their CSR initiatives, to increase awareness among masses. Tata Trusts, under the Swachh Bharat Mission has launched a campaign, where Zilla Swachh Bharat Preraks are engaged in educating the rural population about the importance of sanitation. Sulabh International has also made a name for itself for being involved in the construction of toilets in urban spaces.

Even though cleanliness and sanitation programmes have taken off in the country with much gusto, open defecation has not declined significantly. In this context, it is worth mentioning, studies have shown that 50 percent of the toilets constructed remain unused or are used for other purposes. One of the reasons for this may be the inability of people to locate a toilet in time or not being in the vicinity of one. As has been employed for other issues at hand, technology can be used to mitigate this one as well. A country whose smartphone user base has already exceeded 300 million and internet user base is expected to reach 450-465 million by June 2017, digitising sanitation is a smart solution and concerned citizens have started making use of it already.

Consider all of this,Dutolo has devised an innovative app-based solution for tackling the sanitation issue.

Developed by a young group of socially cautious citizens, this simple app marks the toilets and dustbins in the vicinity of an area. So far, the app has successfully mapped 275 dustbins and 196 toilets, making the lives of urban dwellers so much easier. This free-to-download Android/iOS compatible appsimplyaims to do away with the excuse that “I couldn’t find a toilet, hence resorted to public spaces”. The app was developed without the backing of corporates, who reneged on hearing that it was a not-for-profit project and did not have a definitive business model. Neither did Government Ministries come forward to lend it a helping hand.

Dreamwallets wants to lend a generous helping hand in setting this initiative on its path to success, through popular support.Your contribution of even as low as Rs 500 would prove to be a significant step in promoting clean hygiene and sanitation. If you cannot fund the cause monetarily, you can always make use of your power on social media and word of mouth to make your immediate circle aware of this thoughtful app. Your monetary and non-monetary contribution can go a long way to mitigate the health and social hazards of thousands of women and children in the country, living in unsanitary areas. Remember, it is never too late to do your bit for the society, so act now!