For her children, for their health

Nusrat is 34 years old, a wife, and a mother of six children. She has lived in a village in rural Odisha, India for the last 19 years without a toilet. Nusrat’s children are in school now, and have asked her “why do we have toilets at school, but not at home?” Read how Nusrat and her husband changed this.

Nusrat’s husband, Sheer Khan works to sustain the family. He does this by selling cattle in the village. His income has been just enough to support the family’s daily meals, but unfortunately with six children to raise, they had yet to afford access to safe water and sanitation at home. Without these basic necessities the children were often ill due to poor hygiene and water-borne illnesses. This turned into more money paid to medical expenses, rather than toward improvements like a tap or toilet. Nusrat observed that lack of toilet in the house often worsened the spread of diseases and sickness among her children.

“We had to go to the field for defecation. The fields are filled with human waste. In such unhealthy conditions the chance of recovery is less and the scope of the spread of new diseases is high. As the population rises, it is increasingly difficult to find a clean place for defecation.”

Every morning, Nusrat would walk half a kilometer in search of a clean and private space for defecation. During the walk she would think about what her morning could have been like if she had a toilet in the house. Perhaps she could have slept a little longer, she could spend more time with her children, or she could have cooked breakfast for them.

When Nusrat learned how through she could take a small loan to construct a toilet at home, she shared the information with her husband. Together they agreed to move forward with applying for a WaterCredit loan. Within two weeks after receiving the loan, their toilet was built. Nusrat also received training on toilet maintenance. She shared, “The engineer recommended a twin leach pit toilet model to us. But we had less space for building a second pit, so we built a single leach pit toilet with pit as deep as seven feet. The trainer taught us several ways to keep the toilet clean—they asked us to use a bucket, mug, soap and slippers.”

It has been one year since Nusrat’s family got access to their own toilet. She has repaid all monthly installments on her loan. “I feel very happy now. I feel proud. I am not ashamed anymore. In the past one year we didn’t fall sick even once. I give credit to my toilet for the positive change in our lives.”

The success of this story was made possible by a grant from the Caterpillar 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