China is investing heavily to build clean toilets and the effort is being described as ‘toilet revolution’. Shortage of clean toilets has been a chronic problem of China for long. Lack of quality toilets has a direct bearing on tourism industry and job creation in the segment. China upgraded the quality of 68,000 toilets in tourist spots during the last three years. China has spent $272 during the period for toilet revolution. It has improved the conditions of toilets in major cities, but lot needs to be addressed in the interior parts of the country. They intend to install another 64,000 toilets in cities by 2020.
Apart from further investments to improve the quality of restrooms, China has decided to use technology for addressing the issue. WeChat is China’s most popular smartphone portal. It performs multiples tasks from chatting to digital payments. WeChat has now pitched in to make the toilet campaign a success. It launched a new application on November 19, World Toilet Day. The cloud based smartphone application by WeChat can be used by subscribers to locate nearest public toilet within two kilometer radius of their location. Around 3,30,000 public toilets covering 29 provincial regions are featured in the applications. This covers toilets situated in parks, restaurants, shopping malls, universities etc. Users can upload location details of toilets yet to be featured in the application. Yet, there is a long way to go.
The efforts of China in improving quality of toilets go back to 2006. Subsequent to the public announcement on the poor conditions of toilets made by the famous TV anchor Meng Guangmei, authorities announced to have 64 four star, 197 three star and 118 one star toilets in all the major tourist attraction spots by the time of Beijing Olympics in 2008. The star rating to restrooms takes into account around 58 parameters including proper ventilation, background music and supply of toilet papers. The toilet revolution was officially launched in 2015 by displaying a model public toilet booth that contained television, ATM and vending machine. Later on Beijing city authorities announced 100 more new restrooms with wi-fi access.
All the efforts have improved the condition of toilets in the major cities and tourist locations acorss the country. However, the condition in the interior parts of the country and remote tourist locations needs further attention. In interior parts majority of toilets are still makeshift shelters or open pits next to pigsties. The process being undertaken by China is similar to the ‘Swatch Bharat’ announcement made by its neighbor, India.