India’s Government to Monitor Toilet Use in ‘Real Time’

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BN-GF522_ITOILE_G_20141231034032NEW DELHI:
In January, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation “will launch a nationwide real time monitoring of use of toilet,” according to a press release from the government’s press information bureau.

Government inspectors will go door-to-door and “check and verify the use of toilets” with mobile phones, tablets or iPads. The data will be uploaded to the ministry’s website “in tune with online citizen monitoring,” the statement said.

But don’t get your pants in a twist at every doorbell chime, the efforts will be focused on rural areas and it is unlikely the inspectors will actually accompany you to the bathroom, though it remains unclear how real-time use will be verified. A spokesperson for the ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The monitoring program is designed to ensure that the toilets the government is paying to build are being used: In rural India, 1.3 trillion rupees, (around $21.7 billion) has been pledged to construct around 110 million toilets across the country by 2019. In urban areas, 10 million households will be provided with around half a million public and community toilets and waste management facilities.

“Earlier, the monitoring was done only about the construction of toilets, but now the actual use of toilets will be ascertained on a sustained basis,” said the ministry in the press release.

Roughly half of India’s population defecates in the open, according to the World Health Organization. Many choose not to use a toilet, because they believe it is healthier to go outdoors.

The ministry said in its release that it had completed a pilot project to monitor household toilets using “a hand-held device to capture photos of beneficiary, toilet and latitude/longitude coordinates.”

Since real-time monitoring of a toilet’s use would put a strain on existing manpower, the ministry plans to hire a team of 24 bureaucrats to oversee the effort.

The government and health workers have tried to encourage toilet use to combat the spread of diseases, like diarrhea which kills almost 100,000 Indian children each year.

A lack of toilets presents a particular danger to women, who go into the fields in the early mornings or late at night, leaving them vulnerable to sexual assault or predation by big cats.

State governments have stepped in to encourage people to go indoors. In May last year, the state of Madhya Pradesh held a mass wedding ceremony. To take part, grooms had to prove their homes had toilets.

http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2014/12/31/indias-government-to-monitor-toilet-use-in-real-time/

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