Tag Archives: open defecation

9th August 2017 in toilets | Stories from India, Australia and the UK

We start today with two stories showing two different sides of the Prime Minister Modi’s Clean India campaign to make the nation Open Defecation Free. Firstly, with a story from the Indian Express about a movie star, Akshay Kumar, who has lent his name to the campaign. He is travelling around India, recording his journey on Instagram and unveiling 24 new toilets in 24 hours on his Instagram story. It all appears to be part of the promotion for his latest movie, a film called Toilet, which appears to be a love story. I don’t know whether the film is pro-sanitation propaganda or not, but this news story is definitely pro-government.

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The negative side of the Indian government’s campaign to end open defecation is reported in First Post in a story about the village of Rekhasundar in Bihar, where villagers built toilets in their houses on the promise of receiving a government grant. Nine months later, the money hasn’t materialised and so the villagers took the dramatic step of demolishing their new toilets on Saturday morning. As one villager said, “Some of us took loans. My neighbour bought bricks and cement on credit. Now lenders and shopkeepers are pressing us to return their dues. When we go to block officer, we are sent back with promises. How long can we wait? At least we can sell the bricks after destroying it.”

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A villager standing by a newly-demolished toilet – photo from Firstpost, credited to Alok Kumar/Prafull Kumar

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Now to McDonalds in Liverpool in the UK, where a naked man was spotted injecting drugs into his testicles outside the toilet door. A female customer who witnessed it was traumatised. According to the Cambridge News, she was in McDonalds for a morning cup of tea before work and after she saw the man lift his testicles and make strange noises while injecting himself, she ran into the ladies’ toilets and couldn’t stop crying. McDonald’s staff, who were probably panicking made the odd decision to lock the man in the gents’ toilets until the police came.

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Finally, a reality TV story, where news.com.au has reported on an interview with recently evicted Survivor Australia. According to evictee Mark ‘Tarzan’ Herlaar, the toilet provisions on the island were not good. In fact, he said of his fellow contestants that “most of them didn’t shit for three or four days. It’s actually not high on your priority list, going to the bathroom.” TV is weird. I can’t even imagine a situation that would make me forget about pooing for four days.

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The case against automatic flushes, safe toilets in Cambodia’s floating villages and a possible end to Trump toilets

The Collegiate Times carries the case against installing automatic flushes in toilets as planned across campus at Virginia Tech. The arguments include that automatic flushes waste water as toilets are flushed unnecessarily. The argument given for automatic flushes is that they are more sanitary. However, this is disputed as they flush more often and thus release fecal matter into the air more often. The automatic flush is also said to be racist, as the sensor only registers the reflectiveness of light skin. But the issue that the piece spends most time on is that children are terrorised by sudden unexpected flushes, which their small bodies are more likely to provoke, to the extent that one father has invented a flush preventing device. The debate, it appears, rages on.

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Cambodian lake villages are the focus of a Guardian story, where houses, shops and communal buildings float on raft-like structures. The residents are completely dependent on water from the lake as a source of food and drink, but they also use the lake as a toilet. The residents typically defecate off the edge of their house-raft. This has led to the spread of diseases such as chronic diarrhoea. Children have been known to fall into the lake while defecating and have drowned. WaterAid Cambodia is helping Wetlands Work to roll out the HandyPod, a cheap toilet that will allow villagers to sanitise their waste, along with an education programme to develop understanding around sanitation issues.

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A Cambodian floating village – pic from the Guardian, credited to David Wall/Alamy

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Donald Trump is on his way to a win in Chinese courts against a variety of brands who have been using the Trump name without his permission. That includes Trump condoms, Trump pacemakers and a Trump International Hotel. NJ.com leads with the top end toilets being sold as Trump Toilets.

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The toilets still known as Trump – pic from NJ.com, credited to Mark Schiefelbein

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Teachers take selfies with toilets, IBD sufferers demand toilet access and a hipster tradesman christens your loo

The main source of stories for this blog continues to be the government campaign in India to end open defecation, known as Swachh Bharat. The Hindustan Times reports on a coercive element of this flawed campaign unique to the West Singbhum district of Jharkhand. Teachers are being asked to pose for a selfie with their toilet and submit the selfie to the local authorities in order to prove that they are not defecating in the open. Teachers will face the possibility of disciplinary action, including losing their jobs if they do not submit the toilet selfie. Teachers argue that this is unfair if the authorities aren’t willing to help to pay for the construction of toilets for the teachers in their homes.

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A 12-year-old sufferer of Crohn’s Disease has launched a petition to require New Zealand to change the law so that people who have IBD would be allowed to go into an office or a workplace and demand to use the toilets there. According to this article in “Scoop”, People with IBD often cannot wait for the toilet and although there is an “I can’t wait” card, it isn’t legally enforceable. New Zealanders cam support the initiative/petition at the “I can’t wait NZ” Facebook page.

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Finally today, a tweet from hipster tradesman, Logan Sheppard (@LoganShepp)

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Money for poo, goats in the loo and a long walk to pee

All three stories today come from India, where Prime Minister Modi’s toilet revolution, “Swachh Bharat” is continuing with its share of problems.

DNA India reports on a positive story from the village of Kairi in Bihar, where farmer Yogendra Nath, got in touch with NGO Water Aid, who had built 31 toilets in a neighbouring village and got funding to build a similar toilet in her village. They are eco-toilets, which convert human urine and faeces, with the addition of ash, into fertiliser. After six months of use, Nath no longer needs to buy chemical fertiliser and was able to replace it with humanure of the villagers’ own invention, saving them thousands of rupees. “Humanure” is Today in Toilets word of the week.

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Kerala is district that has been declared “open-defecation-free”, but the story of the village of Kulappadi gives the lie to that, as reported in Scroll. It is a small isolated village, but every home has both a TV and a toilet, and it has a 100% literacy rate. In spite of this, it cannot be claimed that the village is open-defecation-free. The village suffers from severe water shortages, caused by a mixture of a historically dry conditions, overfarming of the land and climate change, and therefore the villagers cannot waste the water they walk long distances to collect on servicing their toilets. As a result, some villagers have given up on their bathrooms altogether and have started housing goats in their toilets.

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A goat in a Kulappadi toilet – from K Rajendran on Scroll.in

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Finally, a story about a Mumbai hospital which is in dispute with the owner of a pay-for-use toilet on site, which means that visitors to the hospital have to walk over a kilometre in order to use the toilet. The article, in Mid-Day, contains a number of sad stories of visitors being forced to leave severely ill and dying relatives’ bedsides in order to go to the toilet.  Some visitors have taken to urinating in the open at the hospital and others have tried sneaking into the emergency ward toilet meant for patients, but the report states that this toilet doesn’t have electricity and when it was last visited, it had no running water and was clogged to the extent that many visitors preferred to defecate in the open. The story told in this article is one of a hospital unrecognisable to a comfortable Western reader like me, and is well worth reading.

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A not-really-open-defecation-free district, Celtic and Rangers go to the loo, used toilet roll postage and a poetic toilet

As India’s campaign to end open defecation rolls on, The Indian Express reports that not all the reported successes of the programme have achieved what they claim to have. In a story about the district of Dhamtari, which the regional government has declared to be “open-defecation-free” or ODF, the reality doesn’t exactly reflect the official status. The story details a school playground that is full of little brown smelly mounds when the children arrive every morning because it’s where locals go to defecate at night. There is also a description of the newly installed toilets, most of which do not have water tanks and which must be cleared by hand. The report mentions one toilet bowl that has been filled with cement and many which are nowhere near pipes. One farmer said that his toilet is the room where he dries his crops as there’s nothing else he can do with the room. This campaign has a long way to go.

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A man from Dhamtari standing in front of the pond he uses as a toilet – from the Indian Express

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Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers’ rivalry is legendary. In September this extended to Rangers’ fans damaging the toilets in Celtic’s Parkhead stadium after they were defeated by five goals to one. The Scottish Sun reports that some Celtic fans decided to get lighthearted and fragrant revenge by lighting green and white scented candles in the toilets in Rangers’ Ibrox stadium at the New Year’s Eve derby match between the two teams. Aww!

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Toilet candles in Ibrox stadium – from the Scottish Sun

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Another sports story now, this time a gross one, involving a cricket commentator and a football commentator. The Mirror carries a story about Jonathan Agnew, who commentates on cricket for the BBC. He has been awarded an MBE and he tweeted, “Can I ask the charming individual who for 10 years has sent me a soiled piece of toilet paper every Test now address the envelope correctly?” Apparently, he’s been getting dirty toilet paper in the post for over 10 years. On seeing the tweet, football commentator, Gary Lineker tweeted back, “Let me guess; sent from a Bath postcode?” Somebody out there is posting their used toilet roll to BBC sports personalities, weekly, for years on end. Take comfort in how normal you are by comparison.

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Finally today, an important tweet from @xssyharvey.

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Toilets as a defence from tigers, a Frenchman wees in Shanghai, more flushed toys and a leeky loo

Villagers in the Pilhibit Tiger Reserve traditionally go to the nearby sugarcane fields to defecate and in doing so, they put their lives at risk. The Times of India reports that tigers lurk in the same sugarcane fields and three villagers have been killed as a result of big cat attacks between October 24th and December 11th.  The district administration has decided to try to prevent further deaths by building indoor toilets for all the houses in the reserve and has applied to the state government, which has offered to pay for toilets for 60% of the houses in the 275 affected villages.

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The Global Times, an expat news site for China, reports on this Frenchman’s concerns in his Chinese office. He’s clearly suffering from culture shock, one of the symptoms of which is feeling as if your host country is dirty. He complains about his colleagues smoking and chatting and using their phones in the toilets, leaving the cubicle doors unlocked while they’re on the toilets and, hilariously, missing the urinals and wetting the floor. I’m sure no one in France ever misses the urinal. It’s an entertaining read.

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Another day, another story from a UK local authority admonishing people not to flush anything other than the three Ps down the toilet. In case you’re wondering, the 3 Ps are pee, poo and (toilet) paper. ITV news is reporting that Wessex Water have issues a press release on the strange things they’ve found in the sewers. These include the dreaded wet wipes, which are clogging the drains across the country, as well as a headless Buzz Lightyear toy, and, incredibly, a child’s scooter.

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Finally today, a tweet from Swedish Canary, whose toilet once again has a leek.

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The leeky toilet – @SwedishCanary on Twitter

Toilet Police, toilet-to-tap, blocked toilets, and self-folding toilet paper

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A road sign proudly welcomes visitors to India’s first open defecation free district – Nadia (from the Wall Street Journal)

We start with another story from India, where the government’s campaign to have every household supplied with an indoor toilet has one notable success story being reported in the Wall Street Journal.

In March 2013, one in three households in the Nadia District did not have an indoor toilet. In less than two years, the local government built over 350,000 toilets. And even though everyone now has access to a toilet, the Wall Street Journal reports that the practice of open defecation has not died out, partly because some Indians believe it is unsanitary to defecate in the home where you live and eat, and groups of local voluntary “toilet police” are now regulating this issue, photographing offenders, and publicly displaying these photos in the case of repeat offences. It’s a fascinating story about one of the biggest changes happening in the world today, well worth reading.

While India may be short of toilets, California is short of water. NBC reports on the LA water district’s plans for a “toilet to tap” programme. California is currently in its fourth successive year of drought and the city of LA imports most its water from other parts of the US, and so the plan is to copy Texas and to start recycling human wastewater for the purposes of consumption. It may sound unappealing, but all water is recycled anyway. I always find it best not to think about what it is recycled from.

On the other side of the US, an Atlantic City casino found its toilets blocked by a fraudster. NewsMax is running this story about a man who smuggled fake casino chips into a poker tournament. When the man was in danger of being discovered, he flushed $2.7 million worth of fake chips down the toilet in the casino hotel, causing a “blockage”. Not only must he now pay the casino for the losses when they had to cancel the tournament, the court also ordered him to pay $9455 for plumbing costs to the hotel.

Japanese toilets are famous for their use of technology – warmed seats, toilets that play music when you pee, toilets that spray your bum clean and blow it dry. RocketNews reports on a Japanese toilet paper dispensing machine, which will dispense clean sheets of toilet paper, without any need for you to touch the toilet paper holder. Bewilderingly, it also folds the paper into a point. I suppose it makes it easier to make a toilet paper aeroplane so you can send messages to the occupants of other cubicles.

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The dispenser – pic from RocketNews

Finally today, a wonderful vine from @colinchadwick (You’d be surprised at how many interesting hits you get when you search the hashtag #toiletvine).