Friday, April 16, 2010

Waste Management by Religion and Gender

You can blame Easterly for today's topic. I found an interesting pamphlet by the GLOBAL DRY TOILET CLUB OF FINLAND describing how to properly care for human waste in developing countries. I found the discussion of waste and religions most fascinating:
But then again Islam determines specific rules on how to handle with excreta. Only left can be used for washing purposes after defecation (right hand is used for eating purposes) and water is used for hand-washing. Therefore in Islamic countries it is very hard to justify use of dry latrines and in some cases dry latrines are forbidden by law. In some Islamic countries such as Yemen dry latrines are used and in this case washing can be carried out in washing places in contact with latrines. [49]
Hinduism is the main religion in India. Certain rituals, which are followed by atleast a part of the traditional religion practicing people, are defined in the religion. Defecation is carried out hiding in a place where no water bodies, roads or temples are near. Defecation is something not to be talked of. Water is used for washing feet before defecation and for washing purposes after defecation. Ritual is finished by flushing the defecation hole eight times with water. Nowadays these rituals are not broadly followed but followers can be still found especially in the higher casts. This can be seen in water consumption for the people in higher casts’ use more water for sanitation than the people belonging to lower casts. Cast system can still be seen in attitudes towards utilisation of latrine waste. It is hard to rationalise the use of dry latrines to higher casts for unwillingness of touching latrine waste and in most cases it is not to be discussed of. The lower casts usually take care of handling and utilisation of latrine waste. [49]
The comments immediately following on gender were also instructive:
  • In some countries there are no public latrines for women at all.
  • It is common in developing countries that when girls reach puberty they are faced with more limitations than boys and they have to e.g.: [20]
    • use more remote places and places further from the settlements for defecation
    • defecate in groups and in most cases even after sun set
    • defecate in their homes and help their mothers to take out the excreta and solid waste
    • even quit school for lack of sanitation facilities.
    Sanitation possibilities in schools and homes enhance equality between the sexes.
  • Women usually know better about suitable location and type for latrine to meet the needs of children and women and on which models are best for hygiene. They also know better how to mix and grout concrete for they have roughcast buildings. Men usually know more about cost, quality and purchase of local materials. When projects are carried out as cooperation with knowledge provided by both sexes results are better than with only one of the groups.

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