How do Indians use toilets in America

Toilets for everyone? Sanitation in India

Around 600 million people, around half of the Indian population, have no access to sanitary facilities. Most of the people affected live in the countryside. As a rule, this means that they relieve themselves outdoors - for example in the fields or along railway lines. However, a lot has happened in the past few years since the government launched a new campaign on sanitation for all. In 1984, only eight percent of the Indian rural population had access to sanitary facilities, explains Prakash Kumar, sanitary expert at UNICEF. For comparison: in 2008 it was already 32 percent. "The sanitation for all campaign didn't really begin until 2000, and the main successes have been over the past eight years."

Ambitious goals by 2015

By 2015 every Indian should have access to toilets according to Western standards

At this rate, the Indian government is likely to deliver on its promise to provide toilets to the entire population by 2015. But in contrast to previous campaigns, the ongoing campaign places great value on persuasion and involves the local population more closely. She has to do something herself. Experience has shown that there is little point in the government simply building toilets, because they were often used as storage rooms because there was a lack of awareness - people did not understand why they should use the toilets.

Shobha Yadav is a villager in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Her family of day laborers built a toilet two years ago. "Before that, we really had problems in the rain. Every time we had to go outside, our hands and feet were covered in mud." This problem has now been resolved by the toilet. Even the small children would use it, only her mother-in-law found it strange at first, Shobha Yadav remembers: "She said: I'm getting a stomach ache! I was really mad at her. And she was pouting on the toilet. But now it is they glad we have one! "

Even today, water is becoming scarce in some regions

Next problem water shortage?

It remains to be seen how sustainable the use of toilets will really be if the entire population is really equipped. And sustainability is a pressing issue in another sense as well, Prakash Kumar points out - because large parts of India are already suffering from water shortages. "In a way, we can be happy that 600 million Indians relieve themselves outdoors." Because a look at 2015 reveals huge problems. By then, almost 1.2 billion Indians would be using conventional toilets. "Where should all this water come from? We have to start promoting sustainable sanitation systems now," urged Kumar. Otherwise, India would soon need a new campaign to convert the flush toilets to some form of sustainable or dry toilets. There are several models of such plumbing systems. They are based on the fact that urine and faeces are collected and then recycled on site: either as fertilizer in agriculture or for biogas plants.

China as a model?

India has yet to meet Chinese standards

Other countries are much further ahead than India on this point: In China, for example, over a million such sustainable or "Ecosan" toilets are already being used. One of the main problems in India, where there are so far only smaller model projects, are taboos and psychological reservations about them Use of human feces. Dr. Subhas Vithal Mapuskar introduced Ecosan toilets for biogas production decades ago in a village near Pune in Maharashtra. "In the beginning they only used the gas to warm water. And then her first impression that this gas was 'dirty' disappeared. "Over time, however, the water bucket had been replaced more and more by the pressure cooker. And that practically went unnoticed.

So rethinking is possible - but it takes time. Also in the Indian government, which is only slowly getting involved in alternative toilets. Probably too slow to really use the time window up to 2015.