But many of these latrines are the kinds of latrines that the WHO promotes. So it’s really no wonder that many of them end up looking like this. They are used for storerooms. They are left to become dilapidated.
So if constructing toilets isn’t going to work, what can we do?
What can the government do? What can you and I do? You know, I get this question all the time and I really wished that I had a good answer.
One thing that we could do is just wait, wait for rural Indians to get rich enough to build the kinds of latrines that have big pits. But I don’t think we want to wait that long. I don’t think we want to lose that many children to open defecation.
What we need to do is start having frank conversations about caste and about what caste has to do with sanitation. And we need to be experimenting like crazy with solutions that address people’s real concerns about pit emptying.
You know, you and I, and other elite Indians who live in cities, we get to avoid talking about caste and open defecation, because they are messy and uncomfortable topics. But India’s growing children don’t have that same luxury of avoiding the germs, death, and disease spread by open defecation.
If we care about giving these children a chance to live a happy, long and healthy life we need to start having those conversations right now.