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MUMBAI: India is the center of the world’s sanitation crisis and ranks No.1 in open defecation. Of the nearly one billion people in the world who have no choice but to defecate in the open, about 60% of them live in India.

This proportion has been steadily increasing, as other countries eliminate open defecation much more quickly than India, where about half of the population still defecates in the open. Women and girls face shame, a loss of personal dignity and risk their safety if there is no toilet at home.

Habitat for Humanity India believes that their country is on track to end open defecation by 2020 and thanks to the confluence of government investment, recent mandates for Indian corporations to spend at least 2% of profits on Corporate Social Responsibility, and NGOs who are mobilizing the grassroots.

This World Toilet Day, we focus on how access to toilets is critical for ensuring the safety, equality, and dignity of women worldwide. Habitat for Humanity is working to help make this reality. With the vision where everyone has a safe and decent place to live – and access to basic sanitation services, the NGO also runs community driven Behavior Change Communication to end open defecation and to sensitize people about the importance of sanitation and hygiene.

The initiatives of Swatcch Bharat Abhiyan or clean India mission under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is loadable indeed. With over half of the countries population defecating in the open, no amount of effort will be in this direction. Achieving the dream of open defecation free India will require collaborative effort by the government, non government organizations, individuals, other institutions and groups. One organization that is doing a lot of work in this direction is Habitat for Humanity India.

On the occasion of World Toilet Day, November 19, 2016, Rajan Samuel, Managing Director of Habitat for Humanity India said, “Open defecation is a socially accepted traditional behaviour. Many households and communities consider toilets unclean and the availability of open defecation fields in rural areas supports the continuation of such a belief. The major challenge is to change behaviours established over centuries which have resulted in open defecation being considered socially acceptable. Through its ‘Sensitise to Sanitise’ campaign, Habitat is implementing structured training aimed at behavioural and attitudinal changes to end open defecation and advocate for demand generation from individuals in need of access to sanitation facilities”.

 

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