Imagine your basic right to sanitation being forcefully taken away. What if your toilet has been sealed for an hour or two and you are forced to go out in the open to relieve yourself or hold on to it till you get access to a toilet again? To address this problem of sanitation, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) India has rolled out a unique challenge to involve more people in the Right to Sanitation issue and campaign for the need to build or rebuild better toilets in schools and houses in rural and urban areas.
With children required to spend close to six hours in schools every day, basic sanitation and drinking water facilities are a must. But according to a recent study by UNICEF, a total of 27.6 million children (14.1 million boys and 13.5 million girls), accounting for 14.7% of the total children enrolled in schools, do not have access to basic toilet facilities.
As part of the challenge, the participants’ right to sanitation will be taken away for an hour and their bathroom would be sealed. The intention of Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) India volunteers is to raise awareness on what crores of children go through every day in our country. If successful, at the end of the challenge, the participant can donate to the cause and post a selfie on any of the social networking sites with #RTS on CAF India’s page, to challenge their friends and family.
“One in two schools in our country has no separate toilet for girls or if there is any, they are non-functional. We want to create an enabling environment for improved sanitation infrastructure and hygiene education in schools and households across India,” said Meenakshi Batra, Chief Executive, CAF India.
“The total strength in our school is 1,500. But we only had one toilet for girls. Due to lack of sufficient toilets, the girls would hardly want to go there to relieve themselves. But as part of Coca Cola NDTV Support My School (SMS) programme and CAF India-supported Sakaar Outreach’s intervention, our school now has six toilets, meant particularly for girls. Apart from toilets, our school now also has a badminton court and sufficient number of water dispensaries,” said Ashok Dubey, Principal, Amichand Intercollege Government School , Kasna in Greater Noida.
A Kolkata-based NGO partner, Sabuj Sangha, which is supported by CAF India on the SMS project has reached out to several government schools in Bengal, to address issues of integrated water, sanitation & hygiene promotion in schools, initiated by the Support My School programmes.
“In the Support my School programme, there were six major components i.e. provision of safe drinking water, children friendly sanitation with incinerator running water facility & hygiene promotion, roof-top rain water harvesting & ground water recharging, tree plantation & making school premises green, support with sports materials and assistance for library books. These intervention areas have benefited school children & teachers to a large extent,” said Ansuman Das, Director, Sabuj Sangha.
In a country where 594 million people defecate in the open and 44 per cent mothers dispose their children’s feces in the open, sanitation should be a major cause of concern. Insufficient sanitation facilities are said to cost India $54 billion every year. Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan needs to be back in focus to provide millions of children with their basic Right to Sanitation.