Pride and Privacy in Patna
– A staggering 70% of Indian families defecate in the open – an alarming prospect when you consider the current spate of violent attacks on women across rural India who are stalked by sexual predators when they venture out into the fields at night. Just last May two teenage girls in Uttar Pradesh visiting a field used as a communal toilet were raped, murdered and strung up from a tree.
But fixing sanitation requires not just building toilets. For a nation that prefers to defecate in the open, a significant change in habits is also essential.
Lakshmi (pictured below) is from a rural tribal community in Patna Village – a very poor region with no formal sanitation, where people survive on meagre wages and whatever food they can produce for themselves. Old traditions here dictate that many women stay up all night to take their daughters to defecate outside.
Just a Drop
Just a Drop has been working with local NGO Haritika to provide each household in the rural village of Patna with its own twin pit latrine, as well as a piped water supply from a newly constructed well.
Lakshimi is just one of approx 550 people in the village who has benefited from this work. Talking to our volunteer Project Engineer, Jim Baldwin, during his visit to India in September, she said:
“I’m so very happy with my new latrine. The privacy it affords me means that I feel much more dignified when nature calls. I hope that my whole family will soon get used to using it, although this may take my father a little time after a lifetime of going out into the fields.”
“After many years of fetching drinking water for my family from a small spring about 1km away, I now have more time to work for daily wages in the fields around the village. My journey used to take around four hours each day”.
In addition to the new water and sanitation facilities, Just a Drop is also working with Haritika to implement a hygiene education programme in the hope that everyone in Patna village will ‘learn to love their latrine’.
Click here to read more on Just a Drop’s work in India.