The problem of open defecation
India is a land of villages and about 70% of its population lives in villages. The problem of sanitation, therefore, is one of "rural sanitation". Various Surveys have shown that substantial per cent of population "go to the open fields" for defecation. This habit of indiscrimite fouling of the surroundings with human excrement is generations old, and rooted firmly in the cultural behaviour of the village people. In urban areas, the latrine is considered a necessary part of a house. In rural areas, by and large, people have not accepted latrines with enthusiasm, and even when installed only a few use them regularly. The problem in rural sanitation is how to overcome the resistance of the village people and induce them to use sanitary latrines. Research studies have indicated that there is only one way to solve the problem, that is, through health education. Social scientists have listed the reasons why villagers do not accept the latrines: latrines are associated with foul smell, excessive flies and are expensive. They are bound by some habits and using a latrine goes against a daily habit of going to the fields.
The solution to the problem lies in teaching people the reason why latrines are important. The teaching should be according to the methods of health education, which includes direct discussion, group discussion, latrine demonstration, and use of visual aids. The ultimate goal of health education will be to motivate the rural people towards acceptance and use of sanitary latrines.
Dr Keshab Sharma,