This article elucidates the historical process of the development of low-cost flush toilets in contemporary India, as a part of the project for the “liberation of manual scavengers.” This article focuses on the specific social movements led by M. K. Gandhi and his followers or co-workers, called Gandhians, from both socio-cultural and technological aspects. Gandhi attempted to focus on the dignified notion of scavenging work. He exhorted to improve the working environments in which scavengers had engaged to eradicate the untouchability. The Gandhians intended to change the structure of toilets in which one would be totally separated from their own waste. Gandians finally introduced twin-pit pour-flush toilets into households. This process brought modern sanitation discourse and knowledge spread to the public about the cause of discrimination against “scavengers” coming from their insanitary working condition, rather than from ritual pollution. In the end, the development process of the low-cost flush toilets by Gandhians, as the project for the “liberation of scavengers,” paradoxically embodied Gandhi’s original claim of untouchability as a “rule of sanitation” into a practical level.
Globally, access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene could prevent 58% of diarrheal deaths among under 5 children per year. In the urban slums of developing countries, overpopulation remains a contributing factor of limited access to clean drinking water and sanitary living conditions. This study examined the current situation of water use, sanitation, child health, nutritional status, and women’s hygiene awareness in an urban slum of Indonesia. The study was conducted in the densely populated area of Bandung, West Java Province, Indonesia. Questionnaires which probed for information regarding household socioeconomic status, condition of drinking water, toilet facilities, and understanding of child health were administered to 30 women. A group of 15 caretakers living with children aged below five years were interviewed regarding their procurement and use of domestic water, sewer system, health status of their children and awareness of good hygiene practices. In addition, researchers observed and photographed the household situation regarding the family’s drinking water, toilet facilities, and sewer during home visits. The study found the majority of participants used water in a safe and appropriate manner with respect to its source and purpose. No participants were found to use groundwater as drinking water. In conclusion, women living in the study area paid careful attention to the safety of drinking water. Although each house had a toilet facility, untreated wastewater was found to flow into a nearby river, which suggested that the people of the community had a low level of concern for appropriate wastewater treatment. Caretakers demonstrated excellent recognition of the importance of handwashing and the majority of participants displayed a high level of interest in maintaining good child health and nutritional status. Lastly, results from the sample of caretakers who were interviewed indicated that the health and nutritional status of the children studied were generally good.
The study conducted was a preliminary investigation into peri-urban water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) and health in Lusaka, Zambia, in preparation for a future action research study incorporating children and youth as co-researchers and community change makers. According to the Zambian Central Statistical Office, only 67.7% of the Zambian population have access to improved drinking water sources and 40%, to improved sanitation (CSO 2016). In pursuit of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations (UN) has highlighted the importance of child and youth involvement in global and national challenges. In Zambia, however, their civic participation level remains limited despite over 60% of the population being under 24 years of age (CSO 2012; Innovations in Civic Participation 2010). Data collection comprised of naturalistic observations and interviews (in 9 peri-urban communities); and a short survey on WASH in 3 of the 9 visited sites (N = 318; age range = 8-89 years). Focus was on understanding current community WASH, health and civic participation of children and youth. Results revealed several challenges regarding the aforementioned focus areas. Being unplanned settlements, access to clean water, toilet and waste disposal facilities was poor for community residents. Disease outbreaks were found to occur on a yearly basis in certain sites. The civic participation of children and youth in their communities was also poor, with several young person’s not understanding the concept. The results highlighted the status quo of community WASH and health, and the intervention challenge that would be afforded the children and youth in the upcoming action research study, aiding in the development of a framework by which the children and youth could participate in the study and impact their communities on matters of WASH and health.