Yes, I've been absence for a while from this cafe. Unlike Sjamsu, I haven't been performing in The Police and Queen nights. Unlike Aco, I haven't been winning any awards. Unlike Ujang, I was happy that Liverpool has beaten MU and Chelsea.
I have been traveling recently to some places, mainly to East Java, for a rural sanitation project in eight kabupatens. I visited some villages, and in many villages I found that only 1 every 9 or 10 households that have in-house toilets. They do most of their business in the river or bushes. Of course, it is easy to think the relations between open defecation, health problems, human capital, and productivity. We may also hypothesize that poverty is the reason why they don't have in-house toilets.
However, most of them have brick or concrete houses, sometimes with ceramic floors. And almost every household have at least one cell phone. So cost (supply) can not be the constraint -- demand looks to be a bigger problem. This may be due to 'culture-related' sanitation behavior, lack of awareness, or whatever reason. The point is, if you just simply build public toilets or subsidize people to build one in their house, such intervention may not work. People will just go back to the river or bushes.
This is where I agree to our friends Tirta (and Roby, among others), that psychology and understanding the nature of social interaction is important. In fact, the project in which I am involved aims to create demand for proper sanitation. What we do is, open community meeting, we ask the villagers to: 1) draw their local map, 2) ask them to identify which houses have toilets, and where do the rest go for defecating, 3) invite them to do some mental exercise in counting how much faeces they are producing in a day, week, month and in a year. After that, we ask them who wants to build toilets equipped with septic tank.
If 1-3 don't work, we then ask them to go to the spots where the villagers do their usual business. If this also don't work, the strategy is to take real, fresh, faeces in front of them then discuss the possible transmission of virus and bacteria to human's body. (Well, if this also doesn't work, then, from the perspective of the project, we're in a deep shit...).
Of course, this efforts may or may not work. Despite all the campaigns, maybe only a few people want to build toilets in the end. Even though many people build their own toilets, their health situation may not improve. This is why we are doing an impact evaluation (in fact, I am involved in the evaluation side of the project, not the shitty activities one). After collecting the baseline data, in a few months up to a two-year period, we will be collecting some data on the health status. Then we will compare the data in the 'treated' and 'control' villages. We'll see the result in 18 months...