Building toilets won’t make India open defecation free: World Bank study

Introduction:

A World Bank (WB) research in India has concluded that merely building toilets won’t stop Indians from defecating in the open as long as their attitudes towards latrines do not change. The research was conducted by Varun Gauri, Tasmia Rahman and Iman Sen. They surveyed five villages in the Ghazipur district of eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP). The state has a high burden of open defecation. The first round of the survey was conducted at the household level, across 204 households that owned latrines, between January and February 2017. The second phase was conducted in March 2017. The researchers measured four key aspects of open defecation including defecation practices, acceptability of open defecation, enforcement of toilet use, and notions of purity attached to toilet construction.   They found that around 40 per cent of people having toilets in their houses did not use them. Many of the respondents associated toilets with gandagi (dirt). People’s beliefs were closely linked to their perception of what others believed. This meant that social norms had a big say on individual attitudes. The researchers concluded that policy makers needed to give proper thought and make adequate efforts to get the desired change in behaviour related to toilet uses.