Dalit Experience of Access to Sanitation with Special Reference to Rural India
Swarup Dutta and Ashok Bharti, 2017
Journal of Economic and Social Studies (forthcoming)
Abstract: Abysmally poor sanitation coverage is one of the major developmental challenges that India has been confronting; the situation is further grave for the most vulnerable and marginalised section of the society?the Scheduled Castes (SC) or Dalits. The study reveals that only 12 per cent SC households in five sample states have a toilet in which half of them are non-functional, and even if it is functional not all household members use it. Poor or no water supply, lack of proper waste disposal system and maintenance of toilet are major constraints, besides financial constraints. Moreover, the condition of Dalit women is worse as they suffer from triple disadvantages?they are poor, they are women and, most importantly, they are Dalits. The study mainly explores the issues related to open defecation and also analyses the perception of respondents on the utilisation and problems related to the functionality of toilet, awareness of and access to various national flagship programmes, etc. Majority of the respondents opined that open defecation is a problem from security point of view and is also a matter of dignity for women. Moreover, a substantial number of women are in favour of having a toilet even without the provision of water as it reduces the drudgery of open defecation and the problems associated with it. Women, those who do not have toilet facility inside their premises feel insecurity of various kinds, such as social oppression and violence, health and physical problems, and risk of accidents.