AHMEDABAD, India — Intestinal disease is one of the major contributors to death in the developing world, but with better vaccination methods and increased hospital availability, some people may wonder why this is such a huge issue. In India, and other densely populated developing countries such as itself, much of this problem is the result of individuals urinating and defecating on public streets.
While there are many public toilets available, much of the public views them as unsanitary and instead choose to squat in areas far from their homes. In an attempt to reduce the risk of disease and infection, leaders in the city of Ahmedabad have come up with an interesting plan that is showing a lot of promise.
Under the leadership of prime minister Narendra Modi, India has begun a cleanliness drive and while much of this applies to the removal of trash from streets and decreased air pollution, it also accounts for public urination and defecation. Ahmedabad is one of the more densely populated areas in north India and has become the first in the nation to try a technique of incentivized toilet usage.
To prevent public defecation, officials in India will be engaging in paid potty training by giving a rupee every time someone utilizes a public bathroom. Officials will be present around all of the over 300 public restroom in Ahmedabad and will be making sure all of the individuals who use the toilets are rewarded.
The bathrooms will be maintained and kept clean so as to avoid the fear of disease, this will increase visitation as well as create jobs in the city. Officials will also be on the lookout for any repeat offenders who choose to use the street instead of the restrooms. These individuals will be fined and “strongly encouraged” to utilize the facilities provided by the government.
A similar idea was presented in Katmandu a few years earlier and proved to be a great success. With UNICEF reporting that over half of India’s population is defecating in the open, this is clearly a problem which needs a strong solution. Many diseases can stem from coming in contact with fecal matter, authorities are doing their best to control any contact that humans may have with it but they cannot do anything about it entering the water supply and in turn causing even more issues.
This rupee reward system has been proving to work well and Ahmedabad seems to be seeing a difference in the attendance of their public restrooms. Officials will soon be sending out inspectors to each of the facilities to ensure cleanliness and inspect some of the more impoverished areas to see if there is any noticeable difference.
While this is a story that has appeared on all media frames, with attention from comedian Jimmy Fallon who made a brilliant advertising campaign for this plan, it is something which should be taken seriously as a great step towards a positive and cleaner future for India.
– Sumita Tellakat
Sources: TIME, Business Insider