Aware Citizen

Sustainability Systems Week 4


In the last class, we were introduced to the project Aware Citizen. Today, we were supposed to submit an assignment about individual and overall contribution to the given SDG goal,i.e Clean Water and Sanitation. I first researched about the main objective and targets of the goal. The UN website provides a lot of information and details about the goal, how it can be accomplished, things that have already been done, ongoing campaigns both online and in real life, and lastly what we can do to help.

If you google ‘Which country has the poorest sanitation’, the first result that comes up is India. My heart sunk when I found out how bad the situation here really is. When I went through the facts and figures related to the topic, I also found out how severe water scarcity issues in our country are, and that its usually the women and young girls of the house who have to walk several miles to get some water for the house.

Most importantly, I examined the sanitation facilities in our country. The worst issue that still persists is open defecation. Some states like UP, Rajasthan,Assam are still not open defecation free(ODF). This is the main motive of the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, and the statistics say that 98% of the country has been made ODF,but the reality is not so. Every family is given INR 12000 to build a latrine in rural homes, but this money is usually used improperly, and the latrines are built by force. Such homes where the latrine is not the family’s own choice are not used as often as those initiated by the family themselves.

Rural latrines are of two types, single-pit and two-pit latrines. Single pit systems, like the name suggests, have only one waste tank, and this has to be emptied manually. This gives rise to two problems – health-related and society- related. The first issue is exposure to faeces itself, which can cause several diseases. Secondly, being in contact with human faeces is considered a thing of impurity, and emptying the pit is supposed to be done by people lower in the social strata. A two pit system addresses a majority of these issues. The logic behind this is alternating between the pits, allowing one to decompose while the other is in use. This comes at a heftier price, and as I addressed before, the money given for this construction is used improperly.

In conclusion, the hygiene problems in our country aren’t physical, they’re mental.

Keeping all this in mind, I decided to make an infographic representing data related to my family and what I found online. Here is my final infographic:

Our task was to come up with a questionnaire to ask in our respective localities, regarding the SDG goal that we were given. We decided on 4 categories for these questions- personal hygiene, drinking water, public washrooms, and waste segregation. Below is our questionnaire:

  1. What is the main source of drinking water in your household?
  2. Do you treat your water in any way before drinking it?
  3. How do you treat the water to make it safer to drink?
  4. How long do you shower for?
  5. How often do you shower?
  6. How do you take a bath?
  7. How many times a day do you brush your teeth?
  8. Do you think sanitizers are pointless?
  9. Do you look at the ingredient list of detergents before buying them?
  10. Which sanitary material do you use?
  11. How do you dispose sanitary products?
  12. Have you ever urinated/defecated in public?
  13. Do you use the public washroom?
  14. Do you segregate waste?
  15. Do you treat your waste before releasing it?

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