It’s a concerning statistic that India, a country with the second largest population in the world, still has roughly 600 million people openly defecating (Relieving your bowels outside, not in a toilet). Open defecation is not just a burden on other people who have to encounter such disturbances but also a serious health risk to the culprits, the lack of sanitation and hygiene that comes with such acts can result in diseases such as diarrhea and hepatitis. Perhaps more disturbingly though, there is a history of women who openly defecate becoming victims to acts of sexual assault due to venturing out late at night or into isolated areas.
Nevertheless, along with global health organizations, national and political parties have had enough of open defecation and there is a serious operation underway to eradicate such unnecessary acts, that no human-being in 2016 should be forced to commit. From October 2014 to February 2016 there was a 7% decline in Indian nationals that were openly defecating, that’s about 85 million people who now had access to a toilet of some kind.
No district exemplifies that national desire, quite like the Ludhiana district, in the North-West state of Punjab. Due to the efforts in particular of the ‘Bharti Foundation’ and the ‘Department of Water Supply and Sanitation’, along with the support of the district administration, Ludhiana has seen a remarkable 5’000 toilets constructed in 300 villages, between the dates of July 12th and August 9th. These 5’000 newly built toilets brings the districts total to 20’000, the highest in the state of Punjab.
Even though many global charities and political leaders estimate that India will be free of open defecation by 2030, the Indian government sees this as far too long and has called October 2nd 2019 the day that India can officially be ‘Open Defecation Free (ODF)’, this day coincides with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Ghandi, ‘the father of the nation’.
This monumental effort by India as a nation and each individual district is an inspirational example of what a collaborative effort in the name of a worthy cause can do, with hundreds of millions of people now being at considerably less risk to potentially life threatening diseases.