JAWERIYA AFREEN HUSSAINI ¦|¦ Deccandigest
Nothing can be more heartbreaking than the definition of slum, which according to the census is ‘A residential area where dwellings are unfit for human habitation by reasons of dilapidation, overcrowding … lack of ventilation, light or sanitation facility.
Slums are inevitably occupied by very poor people and families, who have nowhere else to live. The slums has become an identity of our country, something we can’t boast of. Words related and faced by these people- DEPRESSED – REJECTED BY SOCIETY – POOR – UNDERVALUED – DEHUMANISED…
The census has classified slums in three categories — Notified, Recognized and Identified, of which identified slums (have the largest slum population) are legally not given the status of a slum. So, basically a third of major slum population remains unrecognized. These people are deprived of the basic amenities of day-to-day life like: SANITATION – SEWERS – BUILDING MATERIALS – ELECTRICITY SUPPLY -WATER SUPPLY – MEDICAL HELP – EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN – EMERGENCY FOOD AID…
Sharing a small house with not one but six to seven members is a common scene of the slums.
The houses of slums are devoid of an indoor toilet which happens to be one-third of the slum homes. The ones that do have a toilet are not connected with proper sewerage systems.
Water supply is for few hours. There is queue to take water which often results in brawls. With no proper sanitation medium and open sewerages, the slum residents are exposed to contaminated water, which is a major reason for many health problems that emerges as a result.
The lack of in-house toilets makes them compelled to use the unhygienic communal bathrooms which have no proper sewerage to dispose off the waste. Where we fear crime at every step, for a girl residing in slum, her safety is much at stake being surrounded by uneducated drunkards. Not just that, being devoid of proper sanitation made women prone to many diseases and allergies.
SLUMS -This dark side of our country, *if not improved, will only double in years to come.Those living in slums have to make a living working as rikshawallas, house servants, rag pickers and road side vendors for a meagre sum starting from Rs. 150 to Rs. 3000.
Slums offers a life long Struggle to sustain oneself. Not a surprise but the major cities of our country offer opportunity in form of slums. Cities namely, Lucknow, Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata etc. Slum areas often suffer from crime and can be lawless and violent places. People living in slums are more likely to suffer from illnesses and disease. The life expectancy of an average slum dweller is much lower than someone living in good housing with good sanitation.
Many people do not realize the health benefits to the individual, the community and to society from improving sanitation. The high cost of improving sanitation is often cited as a barrier to implementing sanitation projects. Improving sanitation is often low on the list of priorities. There are so many other pressing needs for the attention of governments: food supply, education, medical treatment and dealing with war and conflict. Most people are aware that poor sanitation has a health impact, but there is a lack of awareness of the extent of ill-health that poor Sanitation causes.
In examining the larger issues of waste disposal, we should not forget the role played by the humble latrine. Far more people lack access to a properly managed toilet or latrine, than to water. There needs to be a political will for – and in investment in – sanitation, and those in need of such services need to exert sufficient pressure to bring about change.
Taking into account cultural beliefs and habits;
- sanitation should be integrated with other aspects of development, e.g., hygiene promotion, child survival, maternal and child health, essential drugs, and agricultural development.
- allowing for long-term ecological and financial sustainability.
*People and waste: the infection burden.*
Wherever humans gather, their waste also accumulates. Progress in sanitation and improved hygiene has greatly improved health, but many people still have no adequate means of disposing of their waste. This is a growing nuisance for heavily populated areas, carrying the risk of infectious disease, particularly to vulnerable groups such as the very young, the elderly and people suffering from diseases that lower their resistance.
The question of ‘who pays for improvements’ often Arises. The set up costs have to be considered: but public investment would lead to substantial returns in the form of better health for these communities, and the associated economic benefits for the community and nation as a whole. To offset costs and ensure greater sustainability of sanitation systems, considerable community involvement and self-help are needed
It is important to understand that sanitation can act at different levels, protecting the household, the community and society.
A Touching Tale Of Reality:
My house helper was doing her routine chores silently as she does daily. But that day I felt this lady was trying hard to say something but was imitating to be busy. I started developing a curiosity to indulge with this lady into some conversation. I began with her kids and their schools, slowly she began to open up and revealed a shocking issue their family is facing since decades. I too got into her mind and then she said this- She comes from a poor family where they are working for daily bread n butter. They don’t have Toilet of their own house. For some Construction purpose the old broken walls and bushes were put to the ground by the land-owner, and now they don’t have the toilet place. There are many such families residing since decades who never really thought to invest on this part of the house called the Toilets or the Lavatory. The female category and the old people of their area are the main victims to suffer with this blunt reality. They are waiting till the sunsets to attain their natural calls. There are a few residents who took the loans n constructed their own lavatories. The reason they thought of doing this is because they have young daughters at home. She and many like her are now asking to lend some loans to construct a toilet of their own. They had been to the offices to raise their complaints regarding this issue, so that some Officials would come forward to help them. They got to know that they will be given the forms to fill up their application regarding their issue. Here comes a shocker- This was told about a year ago. They got a paper this year in April and they filled in those applications and submitted. Now she says “we got to fill the paper after a year, Don’t know how many years will they take to read and how many more years to think about the solution And How many more years to solve the problem”. A big silence… A Deep Sigh, eyes filled with oceans and a fake smile hoping that atleast their children might get the benefit from this. They don’t have a proper sewage, no sanitation, no cleanliness. All sewage water passing through their homes, and them living all day n night in malodorous smell, breathing filthy.
I decided to talk about this issue with many on social media platform. A few wanted to meet her, talk to her. When I asked her to speak, she started shaking with fear, she said, “ Maa (as she refers to me), We are poor people, I will not talk or meet anybody. People will talk about me and they will come to know that am speaking about our area bad and that the BIG PEOPLE as she says- will not like this and they will harm my family”. She is now afraid to talk, she fears her family will not allow her to go out of the house and work. As she stated- her family said “ why did you talk about all this in front of Maa, you should not talk about these things, we are poor people and we can live like this forever. But if our area corporator or any Govt. Official came to know about this, they will get angry and may harm us or our children”.
I somewhere felt, These category of people are having enough and facing enough whatever problems coming in their path. They are scared to voiceup. They are right in someway. They have lost hope with their own destiny as they have already gone through toughest exams on daily life on and on.
Thought of sharing this incident as this is the reality many people down there and many places throughout are living daily. Isn’t there anything we can do? , Can we stand for some cause? , Shall we not become their VOICE? … Many such Questions haunting my mind. Finally penned it down.
“When we are not engaged in thinking about some definite problem, we usually spend about 95 percent of our time thinking about ourselves.”
The Writer is Homemaker , Teacher , Writer since 2005 for the cause and passion.
Note: This Article was prepared by the Author in her personal capacity on recommendation of Deccandigest. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the Deccandigest. picture is for representational purposes.