Unexpectedly Intriguing!
07 July 2008

World Sanitation Day The lack of adequate sanitation facilities in many of the poorest parts of the world is one of the factors that can hold back sustained economic development in these economically distressed regions. Simply put, the close proximity of people and the personal waste products they generate can create health hazards and crises that limit their potential to advance much above the lowest levels of what those in the developed world would call "abject poverty."

But separating people from the personal byproducts of their existence isn't as easy as setting up a permanent or a portable john and opening the doors for business. People who have never previously used such facilities have to significantly change how they interact with their environment. Instead of going anywhere at anytime, for instance, they must instead go out of their way to use a sanitary facility. And if they do choose to go out of their way, they must often wait a substantial amount of time in line for all the others who came before them given the shortage of such facilities. That's a cost in time that many are unwilling to pay. Especially when they can just keep going about their business the way they have always done and continue going anywhere at anytime.

Worse, for public restrooms that are erected in the third world, one suspects that they soon develop the reputation of being the same kind of exceptionally undesirable places to go do one's business that they are even in the most modern of cities, especially when you consider that this kind of medical advice is given for using such places!

So how can public health officials change the mindset of the impoverished to make it worth their while to use a sanitary facility?

Bappa Majumdar reports on one solution that's being put into play in southern India - pay people to use the public restrooms!:

It pays to use a toilet in southern India, as residents are earning close to a dollar a month by using public urinals, a scheme launched by authorities to promote hygiene and research in rural areas.

Dozens of people are queuing up to use toilets in Musiri, a remote town in Tamil Nadu state, where authorities have succeeded in keeping street corners clean with the new scheme, The Times of India newspaper said on Sunday.

"In fact, many of us started using toilets for urination only after the ecosan (ecological sanitation) toilets were constructed in the area," said S. Rajasekaran, a truck cleaner.

The power of positive incentives is truly underestimated in the world!


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