What if we had a mobile app that would help us locate and verify the quality of toilets in a city we are not familiar with? Though this may sound like a joke, this is a reality. Ganga Dileep hailing from Thiruvananthapuram and her friends have developed a mobile application named ‘Kakkoos App’. The application contains the location of all public toilets in Thiruvananthapuram. The app helps in locating the nearest toilet. It is also possible to rate toilets on the app.
A year ago, Ganga who is an architect along with her friends Geethanjali and Meenakshi went on a tour of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. All through the journey they took rest in and slept at railway stations and bus stands. In all these places they were dependent on public toilets. This journey gave them a lot of new experiences and taught them new lessons.
They experienced first-hand the sorry plight of public toilets in Kerala. In one crowded city they found a man in a drunken state inside a public toilet meant for women. Another toilet was one sans any security and was being used by men. Nowhere were clean toilets to be found. After their journey, Ganga and friends visited the public toilets in the capital city of Kerala and conducted a detailed study. They then initiated a toilet campaign.
We need a good toilet culture
"The aim was to have a campaign that would include the public. As part of the campaign, a discussion was organized on November 19 which is International Toilet Day. This initiative received tremendous support. People from different spheres of society took part in the discussion. Doctors, psychologists, transgenders, artists, activists and many others shared their apprehensions and put forward their suggestions. Many toilets cannot be used by women or the differently-abled. There are many public toilets in Kerala. But because of their terribly unhygienic condition, no one dares to use them. There are no special toilets for transgenders. The discussion threw light on many things that we were not aware of, " said Ganga.
Most toilets have been constructed in an unscientific manner. Ganga opines that it is not enough that sufficient number of toilets are constructed, but it is important to ensure that they are properly maintained and are secure and safe. Each person who makes use of the toilet has responsibility in ensuring its cleanliness and safety. It is important to develop a well defined toilet culture. Ganga and team are working on developing a toilet manual with this aim in mind. The mobile app ‘Kakkoos app’ was the third stage of the campaign. Majority of the public toilets in the city can be located with the help of this app. It is also possible to know about their quality.
"There are four parameters based on which a toilet can be rated. On a scale of one to five a toilet can be rated on usability, cleanliness, security and maintenance. Not even one toilet in the city has received a rating of more than two," Ganga’s words indicate the gravity of the situation.
Ganga is the daughter of Dileep Kumar and Chandraprabha both of whom belong to Thiruvananthapuram. Her husband Babu Siddharthan is an engineer. Ganga Dileep who has a degree in architecture from College of Technical Education and a masters from Delhi School of Planning and Architecture worked as a teacher for five years. It was along with her former students Geethanjali, Meenakshi, Hari and Devi that she started the architecture firm ‘Recycle Bin’. The firm only takes up government and public sector projects. Ganga and team are in charge of the construction of a new park in the city under the AMRUT plan. They are also engaged in preparing the master plan for a carbon- neutral tunnel in Meenangadi Panchayath.
The mobile app that was initially built for Thiruvananthapuram city is being extended to other areas. This team wishes in future to work towards ensuring that government plans are properly implemented and reach the needy.