Sanitation drive by PM Imran Khan is a hope not only for pollution plagued Pakistan but also for the majority of country’s rural population which still doesn’t have the facility of toilets and safe sanitation.
While the health implications are gender-less, women are more prone to diseases and damages as a consequence of lacking this facility. Tahira Bibi from a small agricultural village in Central Punjab, Basti Ameerwala, while talking to AFP stated that women in the village face a lot of trouble while defecating as due to the patriarchal hold, they are forced to hide their bodily functions and wait for night to provide a cover of darkness.
The night further makes it difficult due to unpleasant encounters with strange men, snakes and dogs.
”I limit my consumption of water and eat less just to avoid going to the bathroom in the daytime” – the 35 years old told AFP.
But her life has changed during the last two months after a small toilet has been installed in front of her house. The initiative came from a Pakistani non-profit organization named Lodhran Pilot Project (LPP), whose team is working to preach hygiene mainly to men.
A program officer of LPP, Altaf Hussain says that it is the job of men to provide toilets for women in rural areas. The United Nations Childrens Agency says that about 22 million Pakistanis defecate in open. In rural areas, 48% rural population has access to toilets, as compared to the 72% in cities. About 53,000 children die every year from diarrhoea in Pakistan after consuming polluted water, as per UN data.
Tahira Bibi says that one of her four children also died due to stomach problems, while another was at a critical point once. Tahira says she thought it is God’s will but now something needs to be done. UN says that lack of toilets cost Pakistan $2.5 billion each year. Imran Khan has vowed to ”eradicate the deficit of toilets in the country by 2023”
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