Here I refer HUM TUM Technology to primal urge technology that we all need day today. It is hard to imagine without this primal urge technology. This technology is hardly discussed, even if it discussed it thought as disgusting, chee chee etc. It is also part of 50 wittiest tales of Birbal. It is most refreshing feel after usage of HUM TUM technology. I hope by now you all would have guessed about am talking about. Yes, I am discussing about toilets. You will be introduced with some interesting things related to toilets.
Indians should be proud to know that sanitation was first introduced in 2500 BCE during Indus civilization. According to UNICEF sanitation coverage in India is about 30 percent, this indicates that people’s attitude (psycho-socio-economic) of the community and may not be readily adopted. People’s attitude is the combination of cognition (knowledge), perception (feeling) and behavior (action). Understanding community’s approach to sanitation would help in developing feasible strategies in sensitizing and motivating people on the needs of adopting healthy sanitation.
Three cultural considerations must be addressed if proper sanitation approach needs to be devised and adopted – psychological deterrents associated with handling human waste, gender issues which are both universal and local and religious influences which varies regionally despite being universal.
HUM TUM Technology Approach
The process of personal sanitation can be explained with the illustration as shown in the Fig. 1. The illustration discusses the various stages (vertical dotted line) involved in societal sanitation approach and the various sub (activity) components involved in every stage (rectangular text boxes). The factors determining the nature of each activity component are listed at the bottom, under each stage.
The primal urge to defecate and/or urinate is the primary driver behind human requirement for a sanitation approach. The sanitation approach begins with this primal urge, and it varies depending on the individual’s gender and age. To relieve oneself of this urge, the concerned individual usually seeks a place, with safety and privacy. The availability of such a place is governed by the living environment characteristics the individual is currently in, i.e. the individual’s response would vary from a rural setting to that of an urban one; a home vs. an office setting; a formal party vs. a camping trip. The subsequent step involves the actual process of defecation and/or urination, which includes the posture taken by the individual and the conveniences and facilities availed, such as a water closet, decorated ambience, etc. This step is followed by the hygiene requirement of self-cleansing/ablution and waste disposal (usually termed flushing). This stage is determined by the availability (or lack) of water to carry out these activities including, any technological assistance such as those used in mobile campers, flights and space shuttles, and finally also includes the immediate cultural influences on the individual. Social conditioning can be attributed to the individual/ community’s traditional and religious influences that would dictate an individuals’ sanitation approach in a social environment. The final stage involves the disposal of excreta, which again is determined by the natural environment setting and any technological assistance adopted, viz., incinerators and sewerage networks.
The societal sanitation approach figure provided (Fig. 1) above can also be related to Maslow’s (1954) hierarchy of needs which attempts to provide a framework (see Fig. 2) listing the important psychological factors in regard to sanitation (Tanner,1995). According to Maslow, human needs can be fitted into a hierarchy which dominates an individual’s motivation when left unsatisfied. Once these needs have been adequately satisfied, the needs that position higher up in the hierarch occupy the individual’s attention (Rosenquist, 2005). Itwould be feasible to infer from the figure that as one proceeds towards the top of the pyramid, there is an inherent alienation form nature in relating towards satisfying the primal need to defecate and urinate. Subsequent to ‘self actualizations’ societal (individual) progression would tend to carry an elitist attitude exhibiting superiority over other individuals and nature.
Benefits of HUM TUM Technology
Luo family lives in a rural Kenya, the family members are discouraged from sharing a sanitary facility, as it would imply an undesired intimacy with the opposite sex, or, for example, the parents-in-law. In an urbanized area, there is seldom space for more than one sanitation facility, resulting in the toilet being shared by the whole family (setting aside traditional fears).
According to Jenkins and Curtis (2005) in West African villages, the folk who had migrated to urban areas to find more lucrative work and acquire wealth to marry became accustomed to live a new latrine-based lifestyle. Such people, after many years, felt that they had now become unaccustomed to defecating in the open due to a strong desire seeking information-privacy restricting others from eyeing their wealth and even physical presence. Urban areas, in contrast to rural areas, generally tend to develop extensive infrastructure to facilitate sanitation-access to individual households. This can be attributed to the settlement density, which cannot afford large (open) spaces for sanitation.
In India open defecation is common and often practiced in relatively open areas like bush and grassy valleys. In a situation where many people defecate in the same area at the same time, one would claim space and show one’s presence (defecating). This was to prevent others from coming too close. Such behavior can be attributed to the deep primal territorial tendencies exhibited by most animals, modified by human tendency to seek privacy.
The Bushmen have learnt to live in extreme climatic environments without water. They squat in the open, often into small pits to be covered up after defecation. Similar approaches are also followed by desert inhabitant. Here the heat instantly desiccates the faecal matter making it harmless and visually inoffensive.
Two Sets of HUM TUM People
Two sets of people can be classified based on the nature of association with nature in terms of handling human excreta. The first include the faecophilic, who consider human excreta as a part of a natural cycle and have evolved suitable mechanisms. The second include the faecophobic, who consider human excreta something to ‘stay away’ from and their sanitation approach reflects such a fear (hence the termphobic).
Mechanisms of Disposing HUM TUM Waste
Horan (1996) explains that findings from the time of the Vikings suggest that it was acceptable to ‘squat’ everywhere in these cultures. Hoy (1995) points out that in the countryside in America during 19th century it was natural to live with dirt. Privy-sanitation was not known at this time, but most people did not feel it an urgent necessity to maintain a clean living environment. This demonstrates a fact that societies, at one time, culturally did tolerate (accept) dirt and did not associate well-being with water-use, where Horan (1996) terms the 18th century as a dirty age. Dirt and filth was everywhere. People just squatted down whenever and wherever they have to relieve themselves.
A good illustration includes the common practices at that time of using and emptying chamber pots (used for collecting faecal matter) and manually emptying the pot out of the window and onto street. It was considered good manner to shout “Gardy-loo”, before throwing the contents of the pot onto the street to warn passersby (Wright, 1971). It was such poor living conditions in England during the late nineteenth century that led Ebenezer Howard (1850–1928) to propose and implement the Garden City concept. On the other hand, the Cameroonian communities weren’t in favor of adopting latrines at all, because choosing latrines meant altering deep-rooted (traditional) defecation practices (Jenkins and Curtis, 2005). Among many cultures across the world it is a socio-cultural belief that the place of defecation in the house or adjunct to it would defile the sanctity of the house. This resulted in the latrines being independent of the main shelter.
Most people in rural Indian and African villages prefer being undisturbed during defecation; one manner to achieve privacy was to hide in a bush or a tree when excreting. Van der geest (1998), a medical anthropologist working in Ghana, was struck by a paradox in his research among the Akan people of the country. While their culture reacted negatively (expressed both in language and action) to filth and human excrement they had devised very poor mechanisms for disposing a substance that they most despised. During their visits to toilets, the Akans were known for putting up blinders when visiting toilets when walking through polluted or dirty localities (regardless of the physical imperatives) by pretended that when they see nobody, nobody sees them.
In the event of encountering a friend or acquaintance in proximity of the toilets, greetings were not exchanged. In case of sanitation it is clear that denial (of being seen using the toilet in the social company) exists both at the level of the individual as well the society. Similar reactions have been encouraged with the notion of one’s excrement to be seen by others, causing embarrassment and diminished (perceived) privacy. In another example, among the Fons (erstwhile Royals, West Africans) it was a matter of disrespect to their royal lineage if they were to be seen defecating in the open. They carried an innate desire to pursue a latrine-based sanitation approach that reflected their royal lineage (Jenkins and Curtis, 2005).
Quote of Article: Is Social Marketing the way for Sanitation?
For further reading on this topic –
‘A Conceptual model of people’s approach to sanitation’ STOTEN Journal, Elsevier, 2007 Oct publication.