KARACHI: Health experts of the city have termed open defecation as effectively impeding the intellectual capacity of over half of the province’s population. The immediate solution is to create awareness and urge people to stop urinating and defecating in the open. This is an alarming situation, which if not stopped will cause half of the next generation to be stunted.
There have been initiatives in the past whereby Sindh government initiated a sanitation policy. ‘Saaf Suthro Sindh’ is one of them, which came about with a promise to eradicate open defecation by 2025. The policy has yet to come into effect.
The problem further aggravates because the vast majority of the households in rural settlements, including the women, prefer to go to the fields to defecate due to lack of awareness and unavailability of proper sewers. They just don not want to build a small latrine within the boundary wall of the house.
Maqbool Rahu, General Manager for Water and Sanitation Programme at the Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS) said that people resist change and are used to open toilets. It is a herculean task to convince them without explaining to them why open defecation is harmful, he added. He feared that almost 50% of the next generation will be intellectually weak if the practice is not eradicated. “Physical and mental growth is only possible with zero open defection,” he added.