Necessities, turned into unfulfilled dreams. Loss is what they feel; destitution is what they live in; debt is what they're buried under; ruined are their paths.

A villager lives a simple and meager life, with frugality in every way. Far from the materialistic fabrications of the rich, the poor knows the true value of living amidst nothingness. Lack of proper facilities of health, education, sanitation and water, electricity and other basic necessities make them understand the real essence of a deprived life.

On one hand, where thousands of people are reaching new heights in terms of luxurious lifestyle, residents of Ananthapur village in Andhra Pradesh, near Gadwal, wake up only to realise the disquieting plight they live in with lack of hospitals and toilets in the area. With a population of 4920 people and 931 families, Ananthapur remains the most deprived village in Andhra Pradesh in terms of health and sanitation. Abeda Begum, a 44 year old cotton farmer, works as a part time helper in a local Primary Health Centre (PHC) in the village which is the only PHC in the area. “I’ve been working here since last 8 years, when this PHC was constructed; we’ve demanded for a general hospital several a times, however, it doesn’t seem that it shall ever come to existence,” says Abeda.

Dr. Kavita Voturi, a multipurpose health doctor at the PHC said, “The main diseases people here are affected with are TB, Thyroid, Asthma, and Leprosy, low birth weight, diarrhoea and measles. Unfortunately there are no proper medicines available in this village, however, weekly health check-ups are held and people are sent to hospitals in Gadwal, a district 10 km away from Ananthapur.”

Four out of every five women wake up to defecate in the open fields, keeping a hope alive for toilets in their houses one day.

There are 50 toilets located 500 metres outside Ananthapur, making it difficult for the people to go while in emergency circumstances. Many people choose to defecate in the open near the fields instead of travelling to the toilets which are not even properly maintained.

Condition of toilets located outside the village; Credits: Chahak Mittal

Women are the worst victims of poor sanitation. “We use either a cloth or sometimes sanitary napkin during menstruation, if available and it is washed and then burnt after use. There is no space for disposal,” said Abeda Begum.

Credits: Chahak Mittal

If houses lack toilet facilities, schools and offices remain a hope to the villagers. A sad reality hovers in the primary schools of Linganavayu which lacks the facility of toilets for girls. “Headmaster’s complaints are given consideration only on yearly basis, two years ago, the government came to build a kitchen for mid day meals, but the girls’ toilet is broken since 2005,” said Sirisha Srinivas, the headmaster of Zila Parishad Primary school, Linganavayu.

Women travelling to toilets located outside the village; Credits: Chahak Mittal

In Pullur, a group of women travel from autos together to the nearby located washrooms at the same time so that maximum number of women can go together without any issues of safety while being alone.

According to the World Bank, India spends Rs. 24,000 Crore annually on toilets and hygiene; however, such level of deprivation in rural India doesn’t showcase the situation to be improving in any sense. Around 60% of rural women are not even aware about the use of sanitary napkins while menstruation. 80% rural households lack proper toilets and washrooms. Four out of every five women urine and defecate in the open. Hospitals are located only outside the villages with no good medical shops within the area as well.

Thus, in a country where programmes like Swatch Bharat Abhiyan and Nirmat Bharat Abhiyan (Total Sanitation Programme) are heavily glorified, there lie corners where provision of sanitation facilities is still a distant dream.

Created By
Chahak Mittal


Chahak Mittal

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