Looking to the Future
The group plans to seek funding to continue
the work, and hopes to test potential toilet
designs as well as a second option that Clair
calls a “defecation garden.” The garden is a
fairly recent idea to provide a safer and more
pleasant outdoor experience for the many
Indians unlikely to give up the practice of OD.
Gardens would be built on designated strips of
land with raised sidewalks and special areas
where visitors could defecate more safely and
privately than alongside a road or in an open
field. The sidewalk would allow villagers to
remain elevated above waste, Clair explains.
The team could then examine if “having a
choice between outdoor defecation gardens,
OD without health precautions, and home
latrines would provide the freedom and
choice desired and, whether that combination
would help reduce defecation-related disease,”
Clair is aware of the potential for failure
when mandates are handed down from on
high, and relies on another co-investigator,
Professor and Head of the Department of
Political Science Rosie Clawson, to provide
expertise in public policy. The team wants to
ensure that any policy recommendations it
makes are backed by evidence that the policies
are effective. There’s one idea, however, that
they’ve already demonstrated: the world’s
grand challenges require the expertise and
techniques of many liberal arts disciplines—
often in collaboration with experts in science,
technology, and engineering—as we search
for the best solutions.
By Barry Montgomery.
Rahul Rastogi, doctoral candidate in the Brian Lamb School of Communication and an assistant professor at Western Illinois University, conducts focus
groups about latrine facilities and the practice of open defecation with residents of Kumbhdaura, a village in the Mahoba district of Uttar Pradesh, India.
Rastogi often started with a small group, but other community members passing by would join to share their views. Photo courtesy of Rahul Rastogi.