Open Defecation in India

Most people who live in India defecate in the open. Most people worldwide who defecate in the open live in India. Open defecation has direct consequences: it causes malnutrition leading to death (especially for babies), the exposure to germs impedes the physical and cognitive development of surviving children, which is proven to result in stouted childrens growth and reduces the human capital of India‘s workforce. Open defecation is associated with significant negative externalities: it releases germs into the environment which harm the rich and poor alike—even those who use latrines.

open defecation and garbage dump spot right next to populated area

1. Open defecation and garbage dump spot right next to populated area

As the rest of the world steadily eliminates open defecation, this behaviour stubbornly persists in India. Indeed, with 67% of rural households and 13% of urban households defecating in the open (Census 2011), India now accounts for 60% of the world‘s open defecation. India has seen decades of government spending on latrine construction and sustained economic growth, but rural open defecation has remained stubbornly high.

backside of a house commonly used as "public toilet"

2. Backside of an empty house commonly used as “public toilet”

Open defecation has many sources and can’t simply be reduced on the access to sanitation. The Indian Government has set the official goal to end OD by 2019. To achieve the goal many public and private latrines were constructed. But what many studies show, and what I’ve experienced is the finding that many people in households that own working latrines nevertheless defecate in the open and that government-provided latrines are especially unlikely to be used. Additionally, even if the government were to build a latrine for every household without changing anybody‘s preferences, most people would still defecate in the open, which happens because many people have a preference for open defecation.

The following picture shows a simple latrine provided by the government in the house of a family which lives in a slum in Bangalore. The latrine doesn’t have a flush system, it has to be flushed manually with a bucket of water. This might be inconvenient for Europeans, but it’s normal in India. However, the people who own this toilet never use it, for defecation they use the spot which is shown in picture 2.

latrine in a under poverty line Indian household

3. This is a latrine fully provided by the government in a under poverty line Indian household

The reason why the family doesn’t use their private toilet is shown in picture 4. It shows the complete house of that family, which cosists of 5 members. You can estimate the size of the living room by the lenght of the bed. Behind the living room is the kitchen, and directly next to it, seperated by a curtain, is the bathroom. The proximity to the kitchen and the absence of a proper door turns the bathroom into an unusable space.

 

a bathroom next to the kitchen will make it unusable for Indian people

4. A bathroom next to the kitchen will make it unusable for Indian people

In short, many people have a revealed preference for open defecation, such that providing latrine access without promoting latrine use is unlikely to importantly reduce open defecation. Latrine construction is not enough. Instead, if the Government is to achieve its goal of eliminating open defecation by 2019, it must concentrate on building demand for latrine use in India.

Source: SQUAT Working Paper No. 1

Bannerghatta National Park

I am sorry for the delayed update, I have been travelling (and working) a lot during the last weeks. I worked mainly on the development of an environmental campaign, for which we had to fulfill some important deadlines. So far we’ve developed enough to hand the concept development, business plannig over in more professional hands. But some decisions still aren’t made and co-working over boundarys isn’t always as easy as initially thought.I am going to start my “own” sanitation project on urban sanitation in slums. Until tomorrow I’ll have to develop the basic concept and then start a little market research in some slums in and around Bangalore. As soon as I’ve written a draft of the concept I’ll try to explain you the basic points.

Anyhow, here are some pictures from a lovely daytrip to Bannerghatta National Park. Basically it’s a Zoo on the outskirts of Bangalore, where you can also make a “Safari” through the cages of the lions/tigers/bears etc.

This little monkey enjoyed the lovely sunny day, just like we did. The baby monkeys were very curious and observed us just like we observed them.

Monkey Family

monkey family

On this picture you see probably one of the most comfort conscious animals in the world: buffallos. They’re all slow, chill in water holes all day, get hair massage and beauty treatments by crows or other birds around… If I was an animal I’d be a big fat buffallo.

Buffalo

crow massage for big lazy buffallo

After walking around the Zoo we made a bus-safari, getting the opportunity to see lions, bears and tigers. Bus-safaris, just like any other tourist event in India, run after a very easy principle: try to take a picture of the animal (no matter which angle, or part of it), or even better: take a selfie of you and the animal in the background and move on.

Tiger fight

tigers fighting about who gets the nicest spot in the pond

Bear welcoming guests in his cage

this bear welcomed his guests in person

 

Equestrian Academy

It seems that wherever I am in the world it draws me to the horses… During the visit of Bangalore Palace I accidentally figured out that there is an Equestrian Academy In my area.

I went there today; the horses are in a good condition and they seemed pretty professional, although the stable does of course not adapt the standards I would want for my horse. But anyhow, I met a beautiful new friend, pet him for a while and suddenly he decided to give me back some of the love I’ve given to him:

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nothing makes me a happier person than the appreciation an animal can give to you :-)

And whenever I stopped petting and cuddling the gentle gelding (hope his name isn’t really Polina…), he would make this face:

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begging for cuddles

I will go there next week and check out the riding lessons.

Update

Its been quite a while since my last post, sorry for keeping you waiting! During the week I am always very busy with work and most of the weekends I went travelling to some places. Today I am free, so I’ll get some updates for you :-)
Generally spoken I am really doing well! I met a couple of nice people, I start to get organised in this huge city, I already know my first bunch of swear words and I am planning the next big trips around south India :-)

Update

Autograph session with Cricket stars

On Friday we had a seminar about waste segregation in Bangalore Cricket stadium. The whole office staff went there to support our chief in holding her presentation and to prepare everything for the event. Cricket in India is even more popular than football in Germany. In Bangalore cricket is all-embracing: if there is a match ongoing even clubs would show it on screens, on Sunday strolls through the parks you’d find families playing cricket with their children, fan articles are sold on every corner… You simply can’t find anyone who doesn’t like it. If there’s a match in town people go crazy about it and the whole city is in a state of excitement. A colleague from the German Team kindly gave me a short Cricket briefing, and people always are absolutely impressed when I talk about the ‘batsmen’ as if I’d would know what I am talking about… ^^

Royal Challengers Bangalore practicing in M. Chinnaswamy Stadium Bangalore

Royal Challengers Bangalore practicing in M. Chinnaswamy Stadium Bangalore

Anyhow: we went to the stadium and my colleagues got crazy because we could walk down to the ground and watch the Bangalore Cricket Team having their training! Bangalore is very high in the national India League and many players are part of an international Team as well, so even I got excited about it :-) Some of the players even came along the side so we could take pictures with them and catch some autographs.

I'm quite sure this one is Chris Gale, if anyone of you recognizes the other players on the pictures just let me know their names!

I’m quite sure this one is Chris Gale, if anyone of you recognizes the other players on the pictures just let me know their names!

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They have some Australian/South African guys in their Team

a day in Cubbon Park

This 120-hectare park right in the heart of Bangalore is one of the main “lungs” of the city. I spent a beautiful Sunday in the park and was astonished by its huge old trees and flowers. In some parts of the park you’d feel like being in a jungle. Sundays is the typical family day in India. I saw many families having a picnic, playing cricket with the kids or lying in the cold shadow of the trees.

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The park is also filled with all sorts of animals. Of course you’d find the all-surrounding street dogs enjoying themselves, but also funny looking Indian horses and some sort of chipmunks, which actually are spread all over the city! They sit in every tree making funny birdie noises and are very skilled in running really fast up and down every wall or tree.

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a chipmunk and some entries to its lair

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a Marwari: special Indian horse breed. Little, slim horses, with small chests and naturally twisted ears

That day I was pretty much hungover, as we head a nice pool party the night before. Fortunately I figured out one of the best hangover killers: sugar cane juice! Basically they take the peeled sugar cane, put them in a manually driven squeezing machine and squeeze the liquid out of it. When you have it with ice it’s a very nice, cold and sweet refresher. Maybe it is the art of killing last night’s rum with its actual source… anyhow: it works :-)

sugar cane squeezing machine

sugar cane squeezing machine

 

Skybar

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A couple of days ago I randomly met my new friend Mac. He’s trying to find me an apartment, introduced me to his friends and showed me amazing places like Sky Bar. Sky Bar is one of the most prestigious clubs in Bangalore. I’ts on the top a skyscraper, from there you can estimate Bangalores real size. I have lots of fun with those people and they take care of me :-)

Sky Bar