Delhi Government, How Usable are your Public Toilets? Audit Check! #SwachhDelhi4All

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If this was the last toilet you had to use, would you? 

For someone born with a kidney disorder, there is a constant fear of using a public toilet. Where will I find a safe, decent toilet? Will the facility be clean? Why is my mobility outside home restricted by a toilet? 

This has been the story of my life for more than 25 years. Imagine the state of a basti or a jhuggi jhopri cluster, where the urban poor has to think twice before relieving- at all times of the day? 

I work as an urban planner, and I understand the immense issues that are attached to the lack of facilities. Open defecation is not a local problem. It affects us all- via the air we breathe or even the water we drink. The lack of sanitation is responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 children in India annually (UNICEF). These numbers are shocking, to say the least. 

“Over 9 crore toilets have been constructed across India,” said the Hon’ble President of India on January 31, 2019.

While being Open Defecation Free falls under the Swachh Bharat Mission, and is a Sustainable Development Goal, have we in India really achieved this?

As a Delhi resident, it shocked me to hear that the “usability of public toilets has increased by more than 400% in the last two years” (Deputy CM Manish Sisodia). This is such a contrast to what the ground reality is - 70% of public toilets in the city are not clean enough to be used (ActionAid). 

Which is why I am asking the Delhi Government to conduct an audit on the usability of the toilets. 

The reality on the ground? Inhabitants of jhuggi jhopri are defecating in open throughout the day or at least once a day, irrespective of the provision of facilities. Incidences of physical and sexual harassment are common. Children have lost limbs while crossing roads, railway lines, or drowned in drains. 

Is open defecation a way of living for the poor? No! 
Is it their survival instinct? Definitely!

While we are working towards creating an open defecation free India, is Delhi really setting a good precedent for the rest of India? We need an audit check! Join me in asking the Delhi government to:

  1. Audit check toilets of jhuggi jhopri clusters of Delhi for their USABILITY (not mere provision) before October 2, 2019
  2. Identify the hotspots- 
    a. jhuggi jhopri clusters where despite provision people are defecating in the open
    b. Clusters where facilities are still not provided 
  3. Identify the specific reasons for non-usage or limited usage

On October 2, 2019, India will tally its toilet coverage under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, and update its sanitation statistics in the World Bank and United Nations data bank. Let us be a part of the change we want to see in the world!     

Sign and share this petition if #PublicHealthMatters to you! Let us build a #SwachhDelhi4All. Remember, if Delhi can do it, the entire nation WILL. 

Picture credits: Mahak Agrawal