With 1.3 billion residents, India is a densely populated country. Thanks to rapid population growth, the economy is booming. India, however, also faces serious social, economic, and environmental issues. One concerning issue is the lack of toilet facilities. 600 million people, almost half of India’s population, don’t have access to toilets.
India’s toilet crisis has a severe impact on public health. Improper toilets and outdoor washroom use contaminates drinking water. Poor, rural communities are among the most affected. Young children are especially vulnerable to preventable diarrheal diseases spread by contaminated water. These diseases claim the lives of 300,000 Indian children aged five and under each year.
Lack of privacy is also an issue of safety, women’s rights, and human dignity. Women, children, and the elderly are at risk for assault and harassment when using the washroom outside. “Young ladies especially are not safe alone,” says Vimala, a mother from our Tamil Site. People often travel in small groups for protection, and sometimes have to miss work or school.
Recognizing this as a serious issue, Chalice launched India’s WASH project (water, sanitation, and hygiene). WASH aims to educate communities about the importance of personal and environmental toilet hygiene to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases.
WASH is also constructing 505 sanitary toilets in seven of our sponsor site communities. The recipients are so grateful that they’re helping out with labour and donating small amounts to buy building materials.
Thanks to the support of our donors, we’ve completed 96 of the 505 latrines planned, and more are currently under construction. Elizabeth Rani, mother of three, is thankful for the safety the new latrine near her home provides. “Now, my children can go to the toilet without fear,” she smiles.