BHOPAL: Only 7.9% of villages in Madhya Pradesh have public toilets out of the total number of villages that were declared open-defecation free in 2019, revealed the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey report of the Jal Shakti ministry released a year after Prime Minister declared India open-defecation free (ODF). Madhya Pradesh ranks second from the last in the report in having public toilets in the villages. Additionally, 3.7% of the toilets in these villages are non-functional.
Similarly, only 15.4% of the non- ODF villages have at least one public toilet in the premises, especially when the requirement is multifold in the area, says the report. And, 50% of the public toilets in these areas have been reported non-functional.
A social worker working to raise awareness against the practice of open defecation, Jahanvi Dubey, says, “The availability of public toilets at a particular distance plays an important role in inspiring people to use toilets instead of defecating in open. Making the country ODF is still a challenge with lack of resources and awareness.”
The report of the Jal Shakti ministry also revealed that Madhya Pradesh was again second from last with 3.6% of the public toilets not having clean water at the user’s disposal. Only Haryana ranks lower than MP in the category with 7.1% of such toilets.
The state also ranks lowest in having functional toilets in the households with as much as 25.9% of such toilets out of all the toilets in the non-ODF regions.
“The task is not only about people having toilets but using them, which involved a change in behaviour, especially among the rural population. Changing the orthodox mindset is a difficult task. We have come across many elderly people who believe defecating at home is a sin. They prefer going out in the field despite having a government-built toilet at their homes,” says Jahanvi.
The Jal Shakti ministry’s report was released after the nation was declared ODF with only few areas practicing open defecation,
A recent joint monitoring programme (JMP) on water, sanitation and hygiene by the World Health Organization and UNICEF released July 1, 2021 stated that at least 15 per cent of the total population in India defecates in the open. One per cent of the urban and 22 per cent of rural population practises open defecation in the country. It however added that there was a drop in open defecation as compared to earlier years.
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