A staggering 56% children living in slums and unauthorised colonies in Delhi defecate in the open due to lack of community toilets.
It not only puts them at the risk of facing exploitation but also poses a serious health challenge to the affluent colonies located near these areas, says a baseline survey carried out by Mission Convergence last year.
Mission Convergence is a flagship project of the Delhi government. The survey points out that 79% children below the age of three years use open spaces for defecation.
Of these, 56% girls above three years are forced to defecate in the open while 48% boys above three years do not have access to public toilets.
A total of 19,683 persons who were surveyed use open spaces located near or far from their houses for defecation.
“The fact that excreta is out in the open and not confined in a safe manner poses a health risk to the surroundings. So whether 10% or 20% of members defecate in the open, the risk is the same for any household,” states Water, Sanitation and Hygiene — Report of Baseline Survey 2012.
The report further states that intensity of faecal deposition is quite alarming.
According to the report, faeces is flown into storm water drains which in turn flow into the Yamuna untreated.
The survey further points to significant difference between districts with the north-west, south and south-west reporting higher proportion of members defecating in the open.
“Most infants are also being made to defecate in the open. This is a serious problem and needs to be addressed immediately. It is chiefly on account of lack of public toilets and mobile toilets that people are forced to use open spaces,” said an official associated with Mission Convergence.
The survey has suggested increasing the number of toilet seats in case of public toilets.
“It has been suggested that settlements should be identified that have problems related to community toilets. Involvement of community is crucial and more awareness about the problems of open defecation needs to be raised. At the same time, the waiting time and cleanliness issues that have been pointed out in the survey needs to be addressed,” a senior government official said.
The report has been sent to the agencies concerned, including the civic bodies and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, for initiating corrective measures.