A toilet eases family burdens

Managing without a toilet is humiliating to say the least, but for people living with disabilities, it brings a whole other cascade of problems. Now, one courageous Indian family has improved their situation. Their new household toilet brings dignity and health.

Bhanu lives with her husband and four teenagers in Nuggehally village, India. Her husband lost his eyesight in both eyes a few years ago because of a nerve disorder. The situation got worse when he lost control of his left leg and fell while trying to catch a bus. He became completely dependent on his family. This forced Bhanu to work even harder to earn enough money to take care of the entire family. She made beedies (Indian tobacco) and earned approximately Rs 2500 ($50 USD) per month.

Apart from being the family’s primary bread winner, she needed to take care of her husband in every way, including his bathroom needs. Since they did not have a toilet in her house, the entire family was practicing open defecation, except for Bhanu's husband, who because of the practical difficulties was using the neighbor’s toilet. But this resulted in considerable tension between the families.

Bhanu attended an awareness and capacity-building program on water and sanitation with Grameen Koota, Water.org's local certified partner. Bhanu was the first person to apply for sanitation loan assistance. The field staff didn’t hesitate to recommend the loan after seeing the poor situation of her family. Grameen Koota also responded immediately by disbursing the loan (Rs. 7000/ $141 USD) with a two-year repayment period. Bhanu became a member of a women’s self-help group to take out the loan.

Bhanu built her toilet within nine days and her family immediately started using it. Now, the entire family is happy because they no longer have to defecate in the open; the new toilet has secured their dignity and saved them a lot of time. As a result of the time saved, Bhanu is able to work more and earn an additional Rs. 500 ($10 USD) every month to support her family.

Since the toilet was built with minor adjustments to assist the blind, Bhanu's husband is using it with almost no assistance from his family. The family’s two daughters are also very grateful their new toilet ensures privacy right inside their house.

This success story was submitted by Water.org's certified partner organization Grameen Koota, and made possible by a generous grant by the PepsiCo Foundation.

Capital: New Delhi
Population of 1.2 billion
77 million lack access to safe water
769 million lack access to improved sanitation
59% of the total population lives on less than US$2 per day