Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Uttar Pradesh.

 

Low-cost sanitation organisation Sulabh International on Wednesday awarded Rs.2 lakh each to three brides who revolted against the absence of toilets at their in-laws’ residence.

Sulabh founder Bindeshwar Pathak gave away the awards to Priyanka Bharti, Priyanka and Kumari Jyoti at a function organised at Vishnupur village, 30 km from the district headquarters.

Modern toilets constructed

Sulabh has constructed modern toilets for them.

Dr. Pathak announced a “Sulabh Towards Villages” campaign for total sanitation in rural India.

Earlier, Sulabh rewarded a runway bride in Madhya Pradesh who protested against the lack of toilet at her marital home.

“These awards will act as an inspiration for others to follow,” Dr. Pathak said.

The social reformer and activist said lack of proper sanitation facilities in most parts of rural areas was a grave problem, particularly for women.

Sulabh International has built toilets for 11 million people in the country so far, he added. — PTI

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, India.

 

Despite getting significant chunks of their revenue from routes out of and to India, several international airlines use their most dated aircraft on this sector. Indeed, South Asia — including the most lucrative destination, India — gets almost as raw a deal from international airlines as that other neglected part of the globe, Africa. While some of the blame for this ought to go to a Civil Aviation Ministry that seems not to care about the comfort of Indian passengers, it is the tendency of Indians to accept sub-optimal conditions sans demur that has resulted in the abysmal standards of service that we are enduring across the board, including in public administration.

Given the handicaps that come from being born in 
Uttar Pradesh, a place where policies get pursued 
that accentuate rather than alleviate poverty, 
it would have been expected that Ms Bharti 
meekly accept the absence of toilet facilities 
at the home of her in-laws.

Priyanka Bharti is an Indian, living in Uttar Pradesh, a state that has become internationally known for its administrative incompetence and non-existent delivery of public services. Given the handicaps that come from being born in a setting where policies get pursued that accentuate rather than alleviate poverty, it would have been expected that Ms Bharti meekly accept the absence of toilet facilities at the home of her in-laws. After all, the fields (and pavements) in India have served as "restrooms" for millennia. However, this young lady refused to stay in a dwelling that had no toilet. More, her parents accepted this decision and welcomed her back, rather than throw her at the mercy of her in-laws. Given the poverty in UP, it is anybody’s guess as to what would have happened had not Sulabh International come along and given her in-laws’ home a toilet and two other rooms besides, thus once again showing that only the non-state sector has the will to truly improve matters. The state sector swallows up prodigious amounts of taxpayer rupees and gives back to citizens the same substance that Sulabh International has been dealing with since its inception, a substance that shall go unnamed in the interests of reader decorum.

Hopefully, more Priyanka Bhartis will emerge from towns and villages across India, who refuse to accept their wretched conditions of existence as the inevitable kismat decreed by a cruel and unchangeable fate. And it would be about time. If statistics are any guide (and these usually underplay the extent of poverty), more than 20 million homes in UP are without toilet facilities. Priyanka, in demanding elementary human rights, is the exception. Her example needs to become the norm.

Source: http://www.sunday-guardian.com/analysis/three-cheers-for-priyanka-bharti

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, Madhya Pradesh.

 

Spotlessly clean and decorated with plastic flowers and balloons for its opening ceremony, Priyanka Bharti’s toilet is seen as a gleaming symbol of the empowerment of Indian women.

It has been built in the village of Vishnupur Khurd in Uttar Pradesh state due to the determination of Priyanka, a young bride who walked out of her new marital home when she was appalled to find she had to defecate in the open.

The ensuing drama soon became well-known in the area as the newlyweds’ scandalised families both tried to persuade her to return to her husband but she refused, saying the shame of squatting in the fields was too much to bear.

"I was adamant that I could not stay in a home where people might see me go to the toilet outside in an unhygienic way," Priyanka said after the lavatory, constructed by sanitation charity Sulabh, was ceremonially unveiled last week.

"I don’t know where I got the strength," she said. "But I come from a family with many strong women and when I moved to my husband’s house I was without my relatives and friends and I was having to adjust to a new life."

Her firm stance paid unexpected dividends after Sulabh, one of India’s largest social organisations, heard about her protest and adopted her cause as a way to promote better public health through proper toilet facilities.

It even awarded Priyanka a 200,000-rupee ($3,600) prize that was presented at the official opening of the small toilet building, with the bride agreeing to move back in with her husband.

"We did not really believe the money was a true story, so we are shocked," said Priyanka, whose marriage was arranged when she was aged just 14, although she was not taken to her husband until April when she turned 19.

She stayed at her new home for just four days before fleeing when her family came to visit from their village 20 kilometres (12 miles) away. She refused to return to the marital home until the toilet was ready to use.

"My parents were apprehensive and angry but I convinced them it was what I had to do. They had a basic indoor toilet, so for me to start going outside was too difficult," she said.

Defecating in the open is a major social issue in villages, touching on topics including women’s rights, health and hygiene, and the clash between traditional and modern lifestyles.

"Women will not go in the open during the day so they must visit the fields before dawn and then wait many hours again until after dusk," Bindeshwar Pathak, who founded Sulabh in 1973, said.

"Walking barefoot in these areas is bad for catching tapeworm, bacteria and many other diseases, and is unhealthy for children who play. People used to not talk about this issue but now it is a public debate."

Pathak, one of the most notable activists, has for decades campaigned for the use of simple indoor toilets and has also fought for low-caste Dalits (formerly ’Untouchables’) who often clean out other people’s bucket toilets.

"We gave awards to Priyanka and two other brides who refused to live with their new families due to lack of toilets," he said. "We want them to be torchbearers whose example encourages better sanitation."

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said recently that India ‘should be ashamed’ that 60 to 70 percent of women are forced to defecate in the open and he vowed further funding to tackle the problem.

However, government schemes to build new facilities are often undermined by corruption, with recent allegations that in Uttar Pradesh alone, millions of toilets meant to have been built by state authorities were never constructed.

According to the 2011 census, about 131 million households in India have no latrine in their premises, with eight million using public facilities and 123 million defecating in the open.

Among those with an indoor toilet, 800,000 households use a bucket device cleaned by humans and 500,000 use containers left out for animals to eat from.

In Vishnupur Khurd, the new toilet block, with its freshly-painted yellow walls, stands out among the jumble of huts and houses made of rough bricks.

The structure contains two cesspits, plus an attached storeroom and washroom as Sulabh organisers say they find that a single new toilet with a lockable door often ends up being used for storage instead.

For villagers such as Kamala Wati Sharma, 45, the new building — and the cash prize — are to be admired and perhaps envied.

"We have nothing in our house," she said during a break in the day-long opening ceremonies, which included blessings, speeches and dance performances organised by Sulabh and attended by hundreds of villagers.

"It is a problem for us to go to the toilet outside in the dark," said the mother of five. "But it costs money for something like this."

Sulabh, which has provided 1.2 million toilets to poor rural people, admits that the toilet built for Priyanka and her new family cost over $1,000 but says that more basic designs can be constructed for well under $30.

Priyanka’s husband Amarjeet, 20, believes the most important thing is that his wife has at last returned to his home — though he adds he is amazed and proud that she has suddenly become the centre of a publicity campaign.

"I was embarrassed when she asked ’where is the toilet?’ and we had to tell her to go outside," he said. "Now it is built we are going to maintain it and use it properly."

Source: http://www.asianage.com/india/brides-new-toilet-points-social-revolution-india-828

 

Posted by & filed under Articles, International, Press Releases.

 

Stockholm, March 25, 2009 – Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement in India, has been named the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate.

As the founder of the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, Dr. Pathak is known around the world for his wide ranging work in the sanitation field to improve public health, advance social progress, and improve human rights in India and other countries. His accomplishments span the fields of sanitation technology, social enterprise, and healthcare education for millions of people in his native country, serving as a model for NGO agencies and public health initiatives around the world.

Since he established the Sulabh Sanitation Movement in 1970, Dr. Pathak has worked to change social attitudes toward traditional unsanitary latrine practices in slums, rural villages, and dense urban districts, and developed cost effective toilet systems that have improved daily life and health for millions of people. He has also waged an ongoing campaign to abolish the traditional practice of manual “scavenging” of human waste from bucket latrines in India while championing the rights of former scavengers and their families to economic opportunity, decent standards of living, and social dignity.

“The results of Dr. Pathak’s endeavors constitute one of the most amazing examples of how one person can impact the well being of millions,” noted the Stockholm Water Prize nominating committee in its citation. “Dr. Pathak’s leadership in attaining these remarkable socio-environmental results has been universally recognized, and not least by those who have secured the freedom of human dignity as a consequence of his efforts.”

Dr. Pathak will formally receive the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize at a Royal Award Ceremony and Banquet during the World Water Week in Stockholm this coming August.

Sanitation innovator

Frequently citing the common toilet as one of civilization’s most significant advances, Dr. Pathak has led the development of cost-effective and culturally appropriate toilets and related treatment systems to replace the traditional unsanitary bucket latrines in poor communities throughout India. His most prominent innovations include:

• The Sulabh Shauchalaya twin pit, pour-flush toilet system now in use in more than 1.2 million residences and buildings built by Sulabh. This technology has been declared a Global Best Practice by United Nations HABITAT and Centre for Human Settlements, and is now recommended by the UNDP for use by more than 2.6 billion people around the world.

• Sulabh public toilet and bath facilities based on that system at 7500 locations, together serving more than 10 million people daily. These pay-per-use public facilities provide an economically sustainable, ecological, and culturally acceptable solution to hygiene problems in crowded slum communities and public places.

• Optimized water conservation in the Sulabh Shauchalaya systems, requiring only 1.5 litres of water per use to flush, in contrast to conventional toilets that require a minimum of 10 litres. This has significant additional benefits for health and quality of life in water-poor regions.

• Environmentally balanced wastewater treatment based on a duckweed and fish raising (pisciculture) ecosystem that provides economic opportunities for rural poor communities.

• Several technologies that convert waste from Sulabh Shauchalaya toilets into biogas for heating, cooking, and generating electricity.


Action sociologist

A self-described “action-sociologist,” Dr. Pathak has worked on the leading edge of social enterprise for decades, combining business best practices and principled activism to advance the causes of better sanitation, societal change, and improved quality of life. In 1970, he founded the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, an NGO that has been a catalyst for improved sanitation and social change across India. Now with more than 50,000 associate members who are rendering their voluntary services, the organisation has recently /started operations in Bhutan and Afghanistan. In collaboration with UN-HABITAT, Sulabh has trained engineers, architects, planners and administrators from 14 countries in Africa. Sulabh is now planning to start work in Ethiopia, Cambodia, Laos, Angola, Madagascar, Dominican Republic, Tajikistan and other countries.

Through Sulabh, Dr. Pathak has waged a decades-long campaign to abolish the traditional practice of manual “scavenging” of human waste from the simple pit latrines that have predominated across much of India. His early concern for the plight of the “untouchable” scavenger caste led to the development of the Sulabh Shauchalaya toilets to eliminate the need for scavenging in poor communities. Over the years he has led multiple initiatives to champion social dignity, economic justice, and liberation from the caste-oriented system for former “untouchable” scavengers and their families.

Hygiene and health educator

With the establishment of the Sulabh International Institute of Health and Hygiene (SIIHH), Dr. Pathak has led efforts across the NGO and government sectors to develop effective and culturally oriented hygiene and health models for urban slums and rural villages. In collaboration with other organizations, SIIHH has created hygiene curricula for young schoolchildren and their teachers, provided sanitation and health training for volunteer instructors in slums, and opened centres providing basic healthcare for urban poor at Sulabh community toilet complexes.

Working with the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests, Dr. Pathak also established the Sulabh Environmental Information System Centre to gather and disseminate environmental information related to hygiene, sanitation, and sewage treatment for researchers, academics, policy makers, and students.

About Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak

Born to a Brahmin family in 1943 and raised in the Indian state of Bihar, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak attended Patna University where he earned an M.A. in Sociology, an M.A. in English, a Ph.D. in “Liberation of scavengers through low cost sanitation” and a Doctorate of Literature in “Eradication of scavenging and environmental sanitation in India: a sociological study.”

Dr. Pathak first came to understand the plight of scavengers in 1968 when he joined the Bhangi-Mukti (scavengers’ liberation) Cell of the Bihar Gandhi Centenary Celebrations Committee. During that time, he traveled throughout India, living with scavenger families as part of his Ph.D. research. Drawing on that experience, he resolved to take action, not only out of sympathy for the scavengers but also in the belief that scavenging is a dehumanizing practice that would ultimately have a destructive impact on modern Indian society. With the establishment of the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation in 1970, he thus launched a unique movement that combines technical innovation with humanitarian principles.

A prolific writer and speaker, Dr. Pathak has authored several books, the most well-known of which is Road to Freedom, and is a frequent participant in conferences on sanitation, health, and social progress around the world. He lives near the Sulabh campus in New Delhi.

About the Stockholm Water Prize

First presented in 1991, The Stockholm Water Prize is the world’s most prestigious prize for outstanding achievement in water-related activities. The annual prize, which includes a USD 150,000 award and a crystal sculpture, honours individuals, institutions or organisations whose work contributes broadly to the conservation and protection of water resources and to improved health of the planet’s inhabitants and ecosystems.

An international nominating committee appointed by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is responsible to review the nominations and propose a candidate. The Founders of the prize are Swedish and international companies in co-operation with the City of Stockholm. The prize program is administered by the Stockholm International Water Institute.

The patron of the Stockholm Water Prize is H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

For more information you can also visit www.siwi.org
Press release you can visit the link www.prnewswire.com/mnr/siwi/37595/

Posted by & filed under Articles, In the Press, International.

AFP – Spotlessly clean and decorated with plastic flowers and balloons for its opening ceremony, Priyanka Bharti’s toilet is seen as a gleaming symbol of the empowerment of Indian women.

Priyanka Bharti at her in-laws’ residence at Vishnupur Khurd in India’s Uttar Pradesh state. A toilet has been built due to the determination of Priyanka, a young bride who walked out of her new marital home when she was appalled to find she had to defecate in the open.

Recently-wed women (centre L-R) Priyanka Bharti, Priyanka and Jyoti, who left their marital homes in protest due to the lack of toilets in the households, during a ceremony as they return to their in-laws residences at Vishnupur village in India’s Uttar Pradesh state.

Recently-wed women (centre L-R) Priyanka Bharti, Priyanka and Jyoti, who left their marital homes in protest against the lack of toilets in their households, during a ceremony at Vishnupur village in Maharaj Ganj in India’s Uttar Pradesh state.

Villagers welcome back recently-wed brides (centre L-R) Priyanka Bharti, Priyanka and Jyoti, who left their marital homes in protest against the lack of toilets in their husbands’ households. According to the 2011 census, about 131 mln households in India have no latrine in their premises, with 8 mln using public facilities and 123 mln defecating in the open.

It has been built in the village of Vishnupur Khurd in Uttar Pradesh state due to the determination of Priyanka, a young bride who walked out of her new marital home when she was appalled to find she had to defecate in the open.

The ensuing drama soon became well-known in the area as the newlyweds’ scandalised families both tried to persuade her to return to her husband but she refused, saying the shame of squatting in the fields was too much to bear.

"I was adamant that I could not stay in a home where people might see me go to the toilet outside in an unhygienic way," Priyanka said after the lavatory, constructed by sanitation charity Sulabh, was ceremonially unveiled last week.

"I don’t know where I got the strength," she told AFP. "But I come from a family with many strong women and when I moved to my husband’s house I was without my relatives and friends and I was having to adjust to a new life."

Her firm stance paid unexpected dividends after Sulabh, one of India’s largest social organisations, heard about her protest and adopted her cause as a way to promote better public health through proper toilet facilities.

It even awarded Priyanka a 200,000-rupee ($3,600) prize that was presented at the official opening of the small toilet building, with the bride agreeing to move back in with her husband.

"We did not really believe the money was a true story, so we are shocked," said Priyanka, whose marriage was arranged when she was aged just 14, although she was not taken to her husband until April when she turned 19.

She stayed at her new home for just four days before fleeing when her family came to visit from their village 20 kilometres (12 miles) away. She refused to return to the marital home until the toilet was ready to use.

"My parents were apprehensive and angry but I convinced them it was what I had to do. They had a basic indoor toilet, so for me to start going outside was too difficult," she said.

Defecating in the open is a major social issue in India, touching on topics including women’s rights, health and hygiene, and the clash between traditional and modern lifestyles.

"Women will not go in the open during the day so they must visit the fields before dawn and then wait many hours again until after dusk," Bindeshwar Pathak, who founded Sulabh in 1973, said.

"Walking barefoot in these areas is bad for catching tapeworm, bacteria and many other diseases, and is unhealthy for children who play. People used to not talk about this issue but now it is a public debate."

Pathak, one of India’s most notable activists, has for decades campaigned for the use of simple indoor toilets and has also fought for low-caste Dalits (formerly "Untouchables") who often clean out other people’s bucket toilets.

"We gave awards to Priyanka and two other brides who refused to live with their new families due to lack of toilets," he said. "We want them to be torchbearers whose example encourages better sanitation."

India’s Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said recently that India "should be ashamed" that 60 to 70 percent of women are forced to defecate in the open and he vowed further funding to tackle the problem.

However, government schemes to build new facilities are often undermined by corruption, with recent allegations that in Uttar Pradesh alone, millions of toilets meant to have been built by state authorities were never constructed.

According to the 2011 census, about 131 million households in India have no latrine in their premises, with eight million using public facilities and 123 million defecating in the open.

Among those with an indoor toilet, 800,000 households use a bucket device cleaned by humans and 500,000 use containers left out for animals to eat from.

In Vishnupur Khurd, the new toilet block, with its freshly-painted yellow walls, stands out among the jumble of huts and houses made of rough bricks.

The structure contains two cesspits, plus an attached storeroom and washroom as Sulabh organisers say they find that a single new toilet with a lockable door often ends up being used for storage instead.

For villagers such as Kamala Wati Sharma, 45, the new building — and the cash prize — are to be admired and perhaps envied.

"We have nothing in our house," she said during a break in the day-long opening ceremonies, which included blessings, speeches and dance performances organised by Sulabh and attended by hundreds of villagers.

"It is a problem for us to go to the toilet outside in the dark," said the mother of five. "But it costs money for something like this."

Sulabh, which has provided 1.2 million toilets to poor rural Indians, admits that the toilet built for Priyanka and her new family cost over $1,000 but says that more basic designs can be constructed for well under $30.

Priyanka’s husband Amarjeet, 20, believes the most important thing is that his wife has at last returned to his home — though he adds he is amazed and proud that she has suddenly become the centre of a publicity campaign.

"I was embarrassed when she asked ’where is the toilet?’ and we had to tell her to go outside," he said. "Now it is built we are going to maintain it and use it properly."

Source: http://www.france24.com/en/20120701-brides-new-toilet-points-social-revolution-india