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A TISS report on India's toilet woes

According to a survey conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) only six per cent surveyed schools in rural Maharashtra had some basic provision for assisting children with special needs in the toilets. Of the 97.8 per cent schools that had toilets, just 62.2 per cent were functional at the time of survey reveals a report on the “Status of rural water supply in Maharashtra”.

TISS was commissioned to conduct a third party evaluation by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India. “Major reasons observed are lack of water and absence of regular maintenance of toilets,” says the report, which covered 45 schools. Of the 75 anganwadis surveyed, 68 per cent had water sources within their premises. Again, while 76 per cent anganwadis had toilet facilities within the premises, only 46.7 per cent had functional toilets. Baby-friendly features provided in toilets were seen in 50.7 per cent anganwadis. None of the schools and anganwadis had dedicated hand washing facilities available. In all, 960 households were covered in 27 gram panchayats. Household toilet coverage in the study area was 44.6 per cent of the households surveyed and only 40.2 per cent had a functional toilet. “About 65.9 per cent households, who had water sources within the house premises, were observed to have built toilets, while only 35 per cent households, which depended on common water sources, had built toilets. This suggested that the chance of building a toilet doubles with the availability water source within the dwelling area of the households,” says the report.

The research shows that 68.9 per cent households received water daily, 12.5 per cent received water every alternate day and 18.6 per cent households received water once in three or more days. “The status of water supply in Maharashtra can be considered as satisfactory in terms of coverage at the habitations and in terms of service at the households. However, it can be argued that there is tremendous scope for improvement,” it adds.

On the awareness of water quality tests conducted, 60.4 per cent gram panchayats reported that they were aware of regular tests being conducted for the bacteriological parameters, while 56.3 per cent gram panchayats said they are aware of regular tests for the chemical parameters of water sources. “Responses of gram panchayat members with regard to quality of drinking water sources for bacteriological and chemical parameters revealed that they are mostly ignorant of the results of water quality tests being conducted time to time,” it says. The research team further observed that the awareness with regard to the quality of water being used for drinking purposes was at a negligent level among the surveyed households.

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