Psychologist from US studies toilet odour to know people’s behavioural pattern

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Bhubaneswar: Do you find bad toilet odour a major factor behind compelling users to shun community toilets? Could badly smelling toilets indicate that there would be chances of infection from the sites? How can be toilets be more user-friendly and attract more users to use them and make our cities free from open defecation!
Experimental psychologist from Philadelphia, USA, Pamela Dalton, who is a faculty member of Monell Chemical Senses Centre, was in the city to study the smelling toilets and help the BMC and Project Samman devise ways to make the toilets usable and people-friendly.
Pamela and her team members are personally inspecting the toilet sites and with olfactometres finding out the level of the odour or smell of the toilets.
“What we observed in this Temple City of Bhubaneswar that people are not using the common toilets as they found the inside with pungent odour and some might be feeling that the odour could spread diseases or infections. But, in reality, the odour comes from a bacteria and with proper cleaning, use, maintenance and provision of funds to carry out such work could make the community toilets user-friendly,’’ she explained.
Regarding the behavioural practice of the community, the American researcher of the unique subject, said “we may bring in some changes through behaviour change communication (BCC) technique if we really adopt some good methods with the local population, their beliefs, practices in mind.’’
This is her fifth visit to India and so far she has visited states like Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh and tomorrow she is going to West Bengal. As the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation has funded the project, she will be studying why people are opting for adopting open field to defecate and not use the community toilets, instead. Currently, as per the World Health Organisation data, India ranks as the nation with highest rate of open defecation in the world.
On the standard of community toilets in other states and Odisha in particular, she said “in India some regions have better toilets, but in case of Odisha the situation need for drastic makeover so that more and more people will be interested to use the toilets.’’
Pamela came to BMC today and met the team working for Swachh Bhubaneswar Abhijaan and officials concerned. She also visited some toilets in Millennium City Cuttack during the afternoon. Currently under Project Samman 26 Community Toilets are under development across the city, out of which many have already become functional.
With a recent success of many slums under the Bhubaneswar Town Centre District becoming Open Defecation Free, BMC is planning to make the entire city free from open defecation by 2019.

MoU Signed for Maintenance of Community Toilets
Today BMC has signed MoU with various ward Sanitation committees for operation and maintenance of Community Toilets in slums. MoU signed for 4 number of toilets at Prasanti Vihar, Patia Jalimunda Sahi Panda Kudia area. On behalf of BMC Deputy Commissioner, Sanitation Lalatendu Sahoo signed the MoU with various Ward Sanitation committees. It may be mentioned that similar agreements signed earlier with 6 nos of toilets under Project Samman.
The toilets are handed over to the ward sanitation committees for future operation and maintenance. This formula is implemented for making the community members more serious on use of their toilets and creating an ownership mindset.

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