Disposal of Human Excreta and Hygienic Behavior: Guest Blogger Dr. Mohan Lal Jangwal

Environment is an integral part of life. Survival of any living organism is not possible without a healthy environment. Put simply, the “environment” refers to the external factors around us; these factors have an influence on all human beings and vice versa. Different types of environments are all around us, i.e., physical, socio-cultural, and psychological.

Our physical environment faces all kinds of waste coming from a variety of sources. All human beings generate various types of waste, such as refuse, human excreta, and sewage. In urban settings, municipal, industrial, biomedical, and household waste are the major types of waste present. But in rural settings, the major types of waste generated are different and consist primarily of household waste, agricultural waste, human excreta and so on.

The environment affects the life and development of pathogenic organisms, the agents of disease. Many disease-causing germs spread through the external environment via the orofecal route. Poor hygiene and an overall lack of sanitation are the main factors responsible for infectious diseases, which in turn, lead to malnutrition and a high death rate, especially in children under the age of 5. That being said, one of the most significant problems to be tackled in this country is the issue of human excreta disposal.

Human excreta constitute a significant portion of the man-made waste in the physical environment. Disposal of excreta is a serious public health problem. Much of the illness in our country is due to unhygienic disposal of human excreta. Lack of sanitation is supplemented by social factors like poverty, ignorance, poor standards of living, overcrowding, etc. These factors are mainly responsible for the increased morbidity and mortality in the country.

Proper disposal of human excreta is an important aspect of the overall sanitation of the physical environment. There are many misconceptions among people that they should follow traditional ways of disposing of excreta. Due to the low literacy rates in rural areas and urban slums, especially compared to those in the posh areas of town, there are barriers to bringing rapid change to this flawed thinking. The people in these poorer areas have no arrangement of latrines, and they prefer to go to open fields or use the banks of rivers and canals for answering the calls of nature. This practice leads to environmental pollution, especially in the soil and water. In villages, the problem is largely tackled on an individual basis. Because of such a condition, the problem of sanitary condition is still taken as the "Rural Sanitation Problem," even though urban areas are affected as well.

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